Writing competition – write a book review of George Monbiot’s Feral

Writing competition – write a book review of George Monbiot’s Feral

Last year this blog held a writing competition which produced some excellent articles (including this winner in the Wildlife and Politics category by Kerri ni Dochartaigh).  I have some ideas for further writing competitions and this is the first one.
Write a book review of George Monbiot’s Feral and send it to me at mark@markavery.info as a Word .doc (.docx) document to stand a chance of winning a signed copy of Remarkable Birds.  As a condition of entry, your winning review will also be posted on this blog (as may other entries with the authors’ consent).
What makes a good book review? Well, we’ll find out, but it probably has three characteristics: it tells you enough about the book that you know what it’s about, it tells you enough about what the reviewer thinks about the book to influence your chance of reading it and the review holds your attention.
Why Feral?  Love it or loathe it, it’s one of the most important books related to nature conservation published so far this century. Everyone should read it (I think – but if you differ, then convince me) – and it’s widely available in bookshops and through libraries (and many readers of this blog will have a copy at home).
Judging: Ian Carter (who occasionally reviews books here) and I will judge your entries. I might try to persuade George Monbiot to respond to the winning entry and any other published short-listed reviews (but I can’t promise that will happen).
To stand a chance of winning a signed copy of Remarkable Birds write a review of George Monbiot’s book Feral (no more than 1000 words) and send it to mark@markavery.info to arrive by midnight on 31 August 2017.  Include no links and no references – just your words, please.

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3 Comments

  1. john says:

    But a good review can also prevent you wasting your time reading a book that has little to offer. I am not suggesting this is the case for Monbiot's Feral. But nonetheless, I await a review that convinces me that it is, as Mark claims, one of the most important books on nature conservation published this century. I have written about the concept of rewilding https://johnandrewsson.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/rewilding-whats-it-all-about/ this provoked no comments.

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    • jbc says:

      John, I think you may be confusing agreement (or not) with Monbiot's thesis with a review of his book. A book can be stimulating and interesting even if you fundamentally disagree with some or even all of its conclusions. If it's well written it can even help you to hone your arguments against its proposition; to recognise which bits of your own arguments are weaker than you'd thought they were and which you remain most confident of.

      I don't think there is any doubt that both Monbiot's Feral and Vera's Grazing Ecology and Forest History are excellent books that have had a huge influence on nature conservation. I say this even though I'd disagree with these two authors about quite a few of their conclusions. But I suggest that they both ask very good questions, and that's why they are important. Both also put forward a viewpoint, a proposal, that hadn't previously been widely heard, and just because you and I are both very doubtful that either author is entirely right doesn't mean that they are entirely wrong either.

      In that respect I'd disagree with your blog article too, even though I share your concerns about what happens to the existing biodiversity of our anthropogenic landscape. I'd disagree with you and with Monbiot because you both essentially assert that there is no room for a different approach to the two extremes you respectively advocate (I disagreed with Apus apus's guest blog here for essentially the same reason). I suggest that there is room for a variety of approaches, and in particular that both rewilding and traditional site-based active management are valuable in different ways and in different places.

      But all these contributions - yours, Monbiot's, Apus apus', Vera's, Kirby's, Peterken's, Rackham's, I hope even my small efforts, come together as a conversation that increases understanding and skill across the sector. That's why Feral is important.

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  2. john says:

    An interesting comment, but I was not confused. The question was asked 'what makes a good book review' which is why a wrote that a review can save you time and not waste it on reading a book that is not well written. In fact I have read (most of) Monbiot's tome. But not reviewed it; I will leave that to others. As ever he is a polished author. But you are right, I don't agree with the basis of a lot of his reasoning. I didn't realise that I had claimed there was no room for any other opinions, for which I apologise, as I certainly don't hold that view. But I do hold the view that it is generally more cost effective to conserve what we have than most of the alternatives. I also hold the extreme view, that the state of the environment is far worse than is generally admitted, and that humans are on a route to hell in a hand cart! So on that basis 'rewilding' is potentially fiddling while Rome Burns.

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