Raptor: A Journey through Birds

University of Chicago Press
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From the merlin to the golden eagle, the goshawk to the honey buzzard, James Macdonald Lockhart’s stunning debut is a quest of beak, talon, wing, and sky. On its surface, Raptor is a journey across the British Isles in search of fifteen species of birds of prey, but as Lockhart seeks out these elusive predators, his quest becomes so much more: an incomparably elegant elegy on the beauty of the British landscape and, through the birds, a journey toward understanding an awesome power at the heart of the natural world—a power that is majestic and frightening in its strength, but also fragile.

Taking as his guide the nineteenth-century Scottish naturalist and artist William MacGillivray, Lockhart loosely follows the historical trail forged by MacGillivray as he ventured from Aberdeen to London filling his pockets with plants and writing and illustrating the canonical A History of British Birds. Linking his journey to that of his muse, Lockhart shares his own encounters with raptors ranging from the scarce osprey to the successfully reintroduced red kite, a species once protected by medieval royal statute, revealing with poetic immediacy the extraordinary behaviors of these birds and the extreme environments they call home.

Creatures both worshipped and reviled, raptors have a talon-hold on the human heart and imagination. With his book, Lockhart unravels these complicated ties in a work by turns reverent and euphoric—an interweaving of history, travel, and nature writing at its best. A hymn to wanderers, to the land and to the sky, and especially to the birds, Raptor soars.
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About the author

James Macdonald Lockhart was born in 1975. Raptor is his first book and the recipient of the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction. He lives in Warwickshire, United Kingdom.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 7, 2017
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780226470610
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Animals / Birds
Nature / General
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / Ornithology
Travel / Europe / Great Britain
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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As heard on NPR's This American Life

“Absorbing . . . Though it's non-fiction, The Feather Thief contains many of the elements of a classic thriller.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever.” —Christian Science Monitor

A rollicking true-crime adventure and a captivating journey into an underground world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The Lost City of Z, and The Orchid Thief.

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins—some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin's, Alfred Russel Wallace, who'd risked everything to gather them—and escaped into the darkness.

Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man's destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.
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