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Wild Places


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About the Author

Robert MacFarlane's Mountains of the Mind (2003), won the Guardian First Book Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. It was also short-listed for the Ondaatje Prize for the Literature of Place, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. It was acclaimed as 'one of the two most important books written around the experience of mountains in the past fifty years.' Robert Macfarlane is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He lives in Cambridge with his family.


In this eloquent travelogue, Macfarlane (Mountains of the Mind) explores the last undomesticated landscapes in Britain and Ireland in a narration that blends history, memoir and meditation. Macfarlane journeys to salt marshes, mountaintops, forests, beaches, constantly expanding and refining his understanding of wildness. Walking a Lake District ridge at night, he observes that "with the stars falling plainly far above, it seemed to me that our estrangement from the dark was a great and serious loss." Crossing a moor, he finds its vastness and "resistance to straight lines of progress" analogous to the inability of mere words to convey a landscape's variety and immensity. Nonetheless, Macfarlane's language is as surprising and precise as his environments, with such evocative phrases as "heat jellying the air," "ice lidded the puddles" and descriptions of birds that "gild" a tree and the sky as "a steady tall blue." His striking prose not only evokes each locale's physicality in sensuous, deliberate detail, it glows with a reverence for nature in general and takes the reader on both a geographical and a philosophical journey, as mind-expanding as any of his wild places. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Bill McKibben (Author of THE END OF NATURE) "This book is an eloquent (and compulsively readable) reminder that, though we're laying waste the world, nature still holds sway over much of the earth's surface, even in a place as crowded and civilized as Britain. I found it one of the most oddly comforting books I've read in a long long time" Iain Sinclair "A driven and necessary account of the wild places of these islands, near or remote, as they can be located and possessed within ourselves: in good heart, in hungry intelligence. Rich, sinewy prose to set on the shelf alongside works by Roger Deakin, Richard Mabey, Tim Robinson" Rebecca Solnit "Robert Macfarlane's extraordinary first book took a stance against the conventionally heroic; his second as boldly celebrates places that aren't supposed to exist. And The Wild Places does so in prose that is at times very nearly as vivid and beautiful as the thing itself: in his sentences there are sudden clearings, shafts of light, unexpected crossroads of ideas, views opening into the distance, close-ups of important flora and fauna. The book strides along through places, histories and ideas with a distance-walker's gait and a nature lover's pauses" Jan Morris "A lovely book by a sublimely civilized writer - honest nourishment for the mind and true enhancement for the spirit" Will Self "A beautifully modulated call from the wild, that will ensorcell any urban prisoner wishing to break free"

Award-winning author Macfarlane (fellow, Emmanuel Coll., Cambridge, UK; Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination) spent a year wandering through remote regions of Britain and Ireland seeking out whatever wild places remain before they vanish. His travels began on the tiny Welsh island of Ynys Enlli and continued to such places as a strange and beautiful valley on the Isle of Skye, the moors and mountains of the Scottish Highlands, and the shifting salt marshes of southern England. In this winner of the 2007 Boardman Tasker Prize, he observes that natural and human history intermingle in even the remotest locales and recounts the often tragic historical events of the places he visits, such as the "clearances" in Scotland, the Irish Potato Famine, and Oliver Cromwell's purging of Catholics. He gradually realizes that wildness is present in the vitality and fecundity of nature, that it is persistent everywhere. The use of British terms possibly unfamiliar to American readers is a minor inconvenience in what is otherwise a beautifully written and well-researched work. Highly recommended for travel and natural history collections. (Map not seen.)--Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ. Lib., Sault Ste. Marie, MI Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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