Sunday book review – Cornerstones by Benedict Macdonald

This is, in my opinion (and why are you reading this review if you don’t want my opinion?), Benedict Macdonald’s best book to date. Yes, Rebirding (reviewed here) was a very good book, and Orchard (with Nicholas Gates, reviewed here) was perfectly OK, but this is a very, very good book.

Nine groups of species: Wild Boar, birds of prey, Beavers, whales, bees, cattle and horses, trees (!), Lynx and Wolf and humans are discussed as forces of nature. The Lynx and Wolf chapter is rivetting and appears to have been very well-researched – it certainly convinced me.  But every chapter was gripping in its slightly different way.

This is a compelling book on the subject of rewilding – you’d guessed hadn’t you?

The author appears to have travelled quite widely to write this book, and assuming he did, I totally forgive him the carbon expenditure because this book should affect the way that people think about rewilding in the severely dewilded UK. In the hands of the general public it will inspire and enthuse many to understand that rewilding can simply mean restoring a long lost ecology to parts of our country. In the hands of landowners I hope it will, on balance, help to dispel unnecessary fears and make the core conversations better informed. And in the hands of our wildlife NGOs it ought to push them towards a more enthusiastic adoption of rewilding as a core part of their work.

The writing is very good – conversational, engaging and less stilted than parts of Rebirding.  It’s a joy to read because of the subject and because of the delivery of the message.

Very highly recommended.

The cover? I like it, and especially the Willow Tit. I think the Beaver could have been slightly better done but the cover is a fine introduction to the book and attractive to boot. I’d give it 9/10.

Cornerstones: wild forces that can change our world by Benedict Macdonald is published by Bloomsbury.


Buy direct from Blackwell’s – a proper bookshop (and I’ll get a little bit of money from them)


2 Replies to “Sunday book review – Cornerstones by Benedict Macdonald”

  1. If this book is even better than Rebirding then it’s an absolute ‘must read’. I couldn’t help notice the black storks on the cover, I’m supposing that indicates their future breeding presence in the UK. When I was a wee boy I think my heart would have burst with excitement at the idea black storks could become a fully fledged resident species here. Potentially really exciting times if the conservation organisations embrace rewilding more actively than they’ve done and stand up to the propaganda and vested interests against it. Wales would be a very good place to start.

  2. I have just finished this and it is indeed excellent. If you see this it may be because you are thinking of reading it. Please do so.

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