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Raptor - James Macdonald Lockhart


By James Macdonald Lockhart

  • Release Date: 2016-02-01
  • Genre: Nature
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Winner of The Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction in 2011 and the Authors' Foundation Roger Deakin Award in 2011

A stunning debut in the tradition of Robert Macfarlane and Helen Macdonald

Of all the birds of the British Isles, the raptor reigns supreme, sparking the imagination like no other. In this magnificent hymn to these beautiful animals, James Macdonald Lockhart explores all fifteen breeding birds of prey on these shores – from the hen harrier swimming over the land in the dregs of a May gale on Orkney, to the ghostly sparrowhawk displaying in the fields around his home in Warwickshire. This is a book that will change how we think of our own skies.


‘Lockhart's prose is so intimate, urgent, and visceral as to make his darkly resonant ruminations almost unfailingly gripping’ Independent

‘A hymn in praise of living, soaring, terrifying grandeur … his exquisite, poetic language is a sensuous delight without sacrificing scientific accuracy … A tour de force’ Daily Mail

‘Lockhart puts the rapture back in the raptor. Raptor rips at its words, turning them into exquisite portraits of the utter wild, shaping soaring, obsessive beauty out of the British landscape and its imperial birds. A true heir to J.A. Baker's The Peregrine, and T.H. White's The Goshawk' Philip Hoare

‘In Lockhart’s soaring debut he laces vivid prose with illuminating facts … He elegantly depicts these creatures of the sky and, in doing so, celebrates the natural richness of the country over which they fly’ Financial Times

‘If you publish a book on birds of prey in the tumultuous wake of Helen MacDonald’s prizewinning H is for Hawk, you expect comparisons. James MacDonald Lockhart can relax. His book is outstanding … Wild birds of prey represent the living spirit of a place- of Britain. In this delicate, complex, open-ended book, full of freshness and movement, he captures that wild spirit without ever making it feel captive’ Sunday Times

‘Lockhart brings out both the birds’ ecstatic gifts of flight but also the tragedy and triumph of their predatory lifestyle… His descriptions are as precise as they are inventive’ Observer

‘Lockhart is stepping towards the distinguished company of the great modern literary books on birds of prey… The writing, at times, is as good as anything we have on the subject to date’ Country Life

‘His understanding of raptor ethology shines’ Nature

‘Any bird of prey fan will find it irresistible … thoroughly recommended’ BirdGuides

‘Nothing prepared me for the sustained brilliance and intensity of this book … Warm, intimate, full of wonder and delight in the ways the birds revealed themselves’ Caught by the River

About the author

James Macdonald Lockhart is an associate editor of, and regular contributor to, Archipelago Magazine, and a literary agent at Antony Harwood Limited.

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