Birds & People

Birds & People

by Mark Cocker
     
 

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 There are 10,500 species of bird worldwide and wherever they occur people marvel at their extraordinary beauty and wonder at their powers of flight. We also trap and eat birds of every kind.

     Yet birds have not just been good to eat. Their feathers, which keep us warm or adorn our costumes, give birds unique mastery over the

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Overview

 There are 10,500 species of bird worldwide and wherever they occur people marvel at their extraordinary beauty and wonder at their powers of flight. We also trap and eat birds of every kind.

     Yet birds have not just been good to eat. Their feathers, which keep us warm or adorn our costumes, give birds unique mastery over the heavens. Throughout history their flight has inspired the human imagination so that birds are embedded in our religions, folklore, music and arts. Whether on our national emblems or banknotes, bird imagery entwines the political rhetoric of freedom and informs our vocabularies of birth and death.

     Birds & People explores and celebrates this relationship. Vast in both scope and scale, the book draws upon Mark Cocker's forty years of observing and thinking about birds. Part natural history and part cultural study, it describes and maps the entire spectrum of our engagements with birds, drawing in themes of history, literature, art, cuisine, language, lore, politics and the environment. In the end, this is a book as much about us as it is about birds.

Birds & People has been stunningly illustrated by one of Europe's best wildlife photographers, David Tipling, who has travelled in thirty-nine countries on seven continents to produce a breathtaking and unique collection of photographs. The book is as important for its visual riches as it is for its groundbreaking content.

Birds & People is also exceptional in that the author has solicited contributions from people worldwide. Personal anecdotes and stories have come from more than 600 individuals of eighty-one different nationalities. They range from university academics to Mongolian eagle hunters, and from Amerindian shamans to some of the most celebrated writers of our age. The sheer multitude of voices in this global chorus means that Birds & People is both a source book on why we cherish birds and a powerful testament to their importance for all humanity.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Plenty of books tell us how birds live and what they look and sound like, but none has ever told us as well or so beautifully how we have co-evolved with them or what those birds have meant and mean to us. . . . It is, indeed, an astonishing achievement. I feel I could live from its pages for years: they are rich and sustaining and magically suggestive at the same time. Reading them, you just might find yourself growing your own pair of wings." —BBC Wildlife Magazine
“This handsome and richly illustrated volume will keep the passionate bird lover on your list busy for the next decade.” —The Seattle Times

"A delightful duet between nature writer Mark Cocker and wildlife photographer David Tipling."  —Nature

"If ever a book was timely, it is this gorgeously produced 600-page compendium of ornithological facts, images, myths and narratives . . . A celebration of birdlife, informed by that mixed sense of wonder and careful inquiry that Cocker has called 'the poetry of fact.'"  —New Statesman

"Written with grace, conscientious stewardship and unfettered love, the book is a transformative look at the feathered dinosaurs that, despite all we have done to them, still grace our fields, forests and skies . . . an encyclopedia with a heart."  —Julie Zickefoose, Wall Street Journal

"Packed with beauty, curiosity, fascination and wonder on every page, Birds & People is probably best not wolfed down but savoured bit by bit. It is a truly exceptional work, soaring in its scope, boundless in its interest, with an ambition matched only by its achievement . . . [it] strikes me as the sort of masterpiece that only comes along once or twice a decade."  —Mail on Sunday

"Birds & People is primarily a way of looking at our own complex history, through the prism of nature. It is also a beautiful volume, not least because of David Tipling's excellent photographs . . . The results are stunning."  —Sunday Telegraph

"An inexhaustibly rich collection of ornithology, folklore, and etymology that will appear to more than just bird lovers ... One simply runs out of ­superlatives appraising this title. From its glorious photography to its astonishingly wide frame of cultural references, this book will long resonate with readers." —Library Journal, starred review

"Focusing on our plumed friends' role in folklore, mythology, and menus, this book beautifully captures a centuries-old interspecies relationship." — mental_floss

"...fascinating read." —The Guardian US

"...groundbreaking." —The BirdBooker Report

Library Journal
★ 09/15/2013
Discussing his latest work in the Guardian, Cocker (Birders: Tale of a Tribe) referred to the "immodesty" of his ambition. The book, eight years in the writing and even longer in preparation, explores the "tangle of connections" between humans and birds. Much is considered: 146 of more than 200 families of the world's avifauna seen through the prism of humankind's art, literature, history, sport, and gastronomy. No less impressive is Cocker's handling of vox populi—the volume includes an international chorus of some 650 correspondents from 81 countries who tell of their relations to birds, much as they did in the author's Birds Britannica. Photographer Tipling (The Bird Photography Field Guide) provides a global array of unique images. The result is an inexhaustibly rich collection of ornithology, folklore, and etymology that will appeal to more than just bird lovers. Cocker's account of the pigeon and dove family, one of the longest sections in the book, offers a compelling demonstration of how a bird species distributed worldwide has also "colonized" the human imagination with its complex symbolic associations. VERDICT One simply runs out of superlatives appraising this title. From its glorious photography to its astonishingly wide frame of cultural references, this book will long resonate with readers.—Robert Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780224081740
Publisher:
Random House UK
Publication date:
09/01/2013
Pages:
704
Sales rank:
708,425
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.30(h) x 1.80(d)

Meet the Author

MARK COCKER is one of Britain's foremost writers on nature and contributes regularly to the Guardian and other publications. All of his seven books, including the universally acclaimed Birds Britannica, deal with modern responses to wilderness, whether found in landscape, human societies or in other species. He lives deep in the Norfolk countryside with his wife Mary Muir and their two daughters.
DAVID TIPLING is one of the world's most widely published wildlife photographers, renowned for his artistic images of birds. His many accolades include a coveted European Nature Photographer of the Year Award (2002) for work on Emperor Penguins, and, in North America, Nature's Best Indigenous Peoples Award (2009) for his pictures of Mongolian eagle hunters.

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