This is the companion book to the recent TV series. Reading its pages didn’t really take me back to the wonderful moving images of the TV episodes and, I’m afraid, it didn’t take me on very far. There are many great images, and quite a few moving passages of words, but it seemed to me to be a veritable coffee-table book. It might be an ideal Christmas present for someone you love (ask them in July whether they have actually read much of it). The book is an entirely attractive and inoffensive book. I’d probably have got on better with it had it been a more offensive book.
What follows is not really a review of this book – it’s a review of what RSPB, WWF and the National Trust seem to think is the way forward in saving UK wildlife.
At the RSPB online AGM just over a month ago, we few attendees were told that this book and the TV series would be pivotal in launching a wildlife recovery – I really don’t think so. If that forms any important part of the RSPB’s theory of change then it really has lost the plot. Part of the trouble is that we have the RSPB and WWF Chief Execs telling us on its back cover what a great book this is, when their logos are on the front cover, and the examples within the pages are quite slanted towards particularly the RSPB, so this feels like rather gratuitous self praise. There is a two-page Epilogue which sets out what you might do if you want to help nature. It’s very limp, but you are given the RSPB, WWF and National Trust websites funnily enough, and that of the #wildisles ‘campaign’. You might try visiting https://www.saveourwildisles.org/ to find out how you can save UK wildlife but don’t get your hopes up because the right link is https://www.saveourwildisles.org.uk. The position of The National Trust is odd in this book – it’s almost as though it were intended to be an equal partner with RSPB and WWF but then left the party – no quote on the back, no logo – but if you find your way to the Save Our Wild Isles website then there is the National Trust snuggling up to RSPB and WWF and making a triumvirate.
Do I sound grumpy? I guess I do, and that’s because I am grumpy. We have three major UK organisations, ones who really could make a difference to our wildlife, who are pinning their faith on a book and some films when saving nature is rather more difficult than that. Do the people involved, including the trustees, not realise how feeble and vapid this looks? Or have the public relations and membership teams so taken over the hearts and souls of all three of these organisations? that would explain why their brains don’t seem to be working so well, these days. If this were a WWF/NT production then I’d simply shrug and move on, but I expect the RSPB to do so very much better than this.
Losing faith, that’s what I am doing.
The cover? Not bad – I’d give it 7/10.
Wild Isles by Patrick Barkham and Alastair Fothergill is published by William Collins.[registration_form]