Reviews of A Message from Martha

UK Reviews:

The Independent (Michael McCarthy): ‘This book will be a wildlife classic’ – full review here

The Sunday Times (Andrew Holgate): ‘in his often jaw-dropping book he sets out to tell the story of this remarkable animal, and discover the reasons for its seemingly inexplicable demise. Piecing together the evidence, extrapolating from hazy first-hand accounts and taking his cue from other birds that are still with us, his book reads at times like the most arresting of mystery stories.’ full review here

The Daily Mail ‘He has charm and a sense of humour, and unlike some environmental activists, he doesn’t hector or guilt-trip you for not having a wind farm in your back garden. So when he tells you something, you pay attention. It’s a grim story, but oddly fascinating even so, for Avery has had to work hard to piece it together because facts are scarce.’ – full review here

The Telegraph (Tom Fort): ‘the most interesting sections of Avery’s story are those dealing with the passenger pigeon in its heyday, and with its destruction. He draws tellingly on the accounts of the pioneers who witnessed the amazing journeys of the flocks, likened by the early conservationist John Muir to “a mighty river in the sky”.’ – full review here

Rare Bird Alert (Andrew Stoddart): ‘In his new freelance capacity, Mark Avery is one of the country’s most visible advocates for nature. To his already well-known skills as a scientist and a conservationist can now be added those of a writer. He is self-deprecating in his Preface about this new incarnation but these warnings are misplaced. Though much of the book is sombre in content, its tone is lively, engaging and often humorous, some of it verging on the Brysonesque, full of telling anecdote and wry aside. Most impressive of all is the speech drafted for Barack Obama, setting out a vision and a set of actions which would place America on a brand new environmental course. Not only is it compelling in its content but it is beautifully and subtly crafted. It captures the cadences and rhythms of the forty-fourth President so astutely that one can be forgiven for thinking that it is he who is speaking. If only it were the case….’  – full review here

Mike Everett in British Birds: ‘…the point that it was the actions and attitudes of those people that resulted, accidentally or otherwise, in the extermination of the Passenger Pigeon is strongly made. Essentially, Martha’s message to us is that we should do our utmost to make sure that such an event cannot happen again.’


US reviews:

The Well Read Naturalist blog (John E. Riutta) :…of all those that have come my way thus far, Mark Avery’s A Message from Martha stands apart from and above the rest in both the quality of writing as well as the information collected within its pagesand ‘If you read only one book on the Passenger Pigeon during 2014 – or anytime after – make it Mark Avery’s A Message from Martha’. – full review here.

Open Letters Monthly (Steve Donaghue): ‘A Message From Martha also has a more pointedly ecological aim than Greenberg’s book, made the more emphatic as Avery brings his discussion of extinction forward to the 21st century and discusses, among other things, the alarming disappearance of native bird species from his home in England.‘ – full review here (Laura Klappenbach): ‘Although A Message from Martha tells the unfortunate story of a bird that is now gone forever, it offers us a theme rich in hope: if in the aftermath of one bird’s extinction we can listen to its resounding message and grasp how tremendously vulnerable all species can be, we can then choose to do far better in the future.‘ – full review here

Hipster Birders blog: Mark Avery is an important voice for conservation, and his wonderfully timely celebration of the Passenger Pigeon adds significantly to our understanding of their life history, and ultimately, their extinction. Furthermore, A Message from Martha demonstrates how interconnected all of life is, and helps us appreciate how much we lose every time we let a species disappear. Martha would be proud. – full review here

Wall Street OTC: ‘Urging a check on human interference into the nature, famous writer and environmentalist Mark Avery said, “We lost passenger pigeon and much of the rest of North America’s wildlife through ignorance, but we can’t use that excuse today and we still plunder the world’s natural beauty. Now we can see, clearly, what we are doing.”. ‘ – full review here

World Science Festival, Smart Reads: a Question and Answer session with me rather than a review.


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