This book is a very good read. It’s packed with stories of birds and other wildlife seen whilst being a serving soldier. McMullan travelled widely as a soldier including serving in the first Gulf War which is a particular type of ‘travelling’. We are regaled with birding observations from the Middle East, Falklands, Germany and the Canadian prairies as a soldier and from birding trips to many other locations simply as a birder.
It’s all told briskly and with humour. The text is replete with military jargon and birds’ names, but this is what makes this an unusual book. Few books can casually mention birds of prey flying off with human body parts, or at the other end of the scale, the author and many of his fellow soldiers being distracted by a Pallid Harrier quartering in the background as General Schwarzkopf addressed them in Kuwait. And few can switch from being shelled to seeing a new bird.
There is a lot about owls and woodpeckers here – the author’s favourite birds it seems.
The setting up of a nature reserve in Germany is an achievement of which the author is rightly proud.
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I might and I beleive it would appeal to many. If you are a former or current soldier with an interest in birds then I’d guess this is right up your street. But actuaqlly, I am grateful to tthe author for a bit of an insight into military life which I would not have been that interested in having were it not for the fact that it is all wrapped up in tales of birding here.
The cover? It gives a few big hints as to what the book is about – I’d give it 7/10.
More Birds than Bullets: my life with birds by Geoffrey McMullan is published by Pathfinder-UK.