Pastoral Song


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About the Author

James Rebanks runs a family-owned farm in the Lake District in northern England. A graduate of Oxford University, James works as an expert advisor to UNESCO on sustainable tourism. He uses his popular Twitter feed - @herdyshepherd1 - to share updates on the shepherding year. He is the author of The Shepherd's Life.


"Pastoral Song is a wonder of a book, fierce, tender, and beautiful. Deeply personal but also global in significance, its pages course with love and concern so palpable I more than once wept while reading it. James Rebanks writes lyrically and passionately of the shadow that has fallen over our relationship with land, and how we might reconfigure the ways we think about it, relate to it, interact with it, and with each other. It's both a sobering, urgent read and a deeply inspiring, hopeful one. The book, and author, are to be treasured."--Helen Macdonald, New York Times bestselling author of H is for Hawk
"Thank the gods of agriculture for James Rebanks. ... A lyrical narrative of experience, tracing 40 years and three generations of farming on his family's land as it is buffeted by the incredible shifts in scale, market, methods and trade rules that have changed farming all over the world. ... We experience that esoteric life through Rebanks's evocative storytelling, learning with him to appreciate not only the sheep and crops he's learning to tend, but the wild plants and animals that live among and around them."--New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
Rebanks offers a sensible way to think about food and the planet. ... His prose will transport readers, introducing them to both the harsh realities and the joys of everyday life on a piece of land that has deep, personal meaning.--Christian Science Monitor, Best of the Month
Rebanks, who runs a family-owned farm in England's Lake District and wrote the 2015 bestseller The Shepherd's Life, waxes lyrically about his bucolic surroundings while also delivering an eloquent treatise on the problems of modern agriculture.--Washington Post
Superbly written and deeply insightful, the book captivates the reader until the journey's end. ... Pastoral Song is a lament for lost traditions, a celebration of a way of living and a reminder that nature is 'finite and breakable.' Mr. Rebanks hits all the right notes and deserves to be heard."--Wall Street Journal, Best of the Month
Rebanks has a gift for capturing both the allure of his beautiful surroundings and his difficult work, and for articulating the complex, worrisome issues facing farmers today. Pastoral Song enchants. ... Urgently conveys how the drive for cheap, mass-produced food has impoverished both small farmers and the soil, threatening humanity's, What We're Excited to Read Next Month
Rebanks' lifetime spent farming gives this book its credibility; his sensible tone gives it its power. And his eloquence describing his beloved farm gives it its beauty.--Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Rapturous ... a paean to a more life-enhancing approach to farming ... For Rebanks writing and farming have proved complementary: while working long hours on the land he has produced a book in a pastoral tradition that runs from Virgil to Wendell Berry."--Blake Morrison, Guardian
"Remarkable ... A brilliant, beautiful book ... Eloquent, persuasive and electric with the urgency that comes out of love."--Sunday Times (London)
"James Rebanks's fierce, personal description of what has gone wrong with the way we farm and eat, and how we can put it right, gets my vote as the most important book of the year ... Some books change our world. I hope this turns out to be one of them."--Julian Glover, Evening Standard

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