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Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  3,348 ratings  ·  420 reviews
How many of us sometimes feel that we are scratching at the walls of this life, seeking to find our way into a wider space beyond? That our mild, polite existence sometimes seems to crush the breath out of us? Feral is the lyrical and gripping story of George Monbiot's efforts to re-engage with nature and discover a new way of living. He shows how, by restoring and rewildi ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 5th 2014 by Penguin (first published May 28th 2013)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Monbiot's book Heat, in which he sets out a plan of how the UK could and should repond to human-made climate change by cutting carbon emissions by 90%, in 2010. I was convinced, but not optimistic; the changes we need to make are radical; the restructuring in transport for example, would be deep, and despite the strength of the argument against doing so even I have failed to stop flying (I have restricted myself somewhat, but totally failed to persuade anyone else), which has become so in ...more
Jude Li-Berry
Jul 17, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: end-of-humanity
This is the most disappointing book I have read in the last few years. It's all the more disappointing because it sets up one's hope high: Feral, Rewilding the land, the sea, and human life -- such fascinating and pressing subjects, it's hard to imagine how can one can wrong. And Monbiot does, grossly. Recently I compared a somewhat discursive and repetitious production by E. O. Wilson to brilliant tooth-pickings of a great mind; in contrast, FERAL is sensationalized tooth-pickings of egocentris ...more
Mark Avery
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that many people ought to read. I read most of it before I went to the USA and then read all of it, some of it several times, on my return. I was reading it again at 6am yesterday morning in the back garden of the Old Mill Hotel in Salisbury where a kingfisher, a juvenile robin and a loud wren distracted me.

I agree with the thrust of this book – which I believe is that we need more wild nature in our lives and that we ought to put it there through ‘rewilding’ some of the world aro
Tommye Turner
This book is about rewilding. The concept of rewilding is vague and has different meanings depending on who you talk to. George Monbiot does a wonderful job of both explaining what rewilding is to him, and all many other shades of definition that exist.

I was entranced by the visions of epic forests filled with lynx, wolves, and other wild animals. As a child I would escape into woods wherever I could find them and pretend that these animals might exist; now that I know they could, if enough peop
I found this book wholly delightful. It contains a mixture of adventures Monbiot has had in the wilder parts of the world and well-reasoned arguments for allowing more of the world to be wild. The most powerful concept he uses is ‘shifting baseline syndrome’, the idea that we consider the countryside of our childhood to be the ‘natural’ state of things. This is a useful reminder that notions of wilderness are culturally and socially mediated. I wasn’t especially surprised to learn that the UK is ...more
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
The landscape of the UK has been tamed by man and domestic animal for millennia, so much so that vast parts of it are almost monocultures now. This legacy is one of the human desire to control and dominate their environment, and biodiversity has suffered as a result. In this book Monbiot is advocating us to re-engage with nature and considers bold and daring options to re-wild the countryside.

Possibly the bravest of his suggestions is to reintroduce wolves. First hearing this, most people will
Sergio  Mori
Oct 22, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think I didn't like it mainly because of the expectations I had. I thought the focus was going to be philosophical. Instead, what I got was the random adventures of a glorified boy scout. The final straw for me was the smug tone he adopts when he talks about cryptozoologists. Really annoying. He just sounds like a spoilt brat.

So, after 50-odd pages I gave up. If you can't grab my attention in 50 pages, you probably won't be able to do it later.
Aug 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had waited a long time to read this book and opened it with much anticipation, fascinated by the topic and what I had read about it.
So it was very disappointing to discover that it was a bit of a drag to read, annoyingly opinionated, going off on weird tangents where the only purpose appeared to be to tell us what an adventurous fine fellow Monbiot is, and often just really boring.
I did enjoy learning about various animals that used to roam the British Isles and what it might take to reintrodu
Ariel Gordon
From the June 1 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press' Books Section:

Rabble-rousing U.K. journalist George Monbiot doesn't much like sheep.

In his eighth book, Feral, he minces no words about the effect the ruminants have on the British landscape: "Sheep farming in this country is a slow-burning ecological disaster, which has done more damage to the living systems of this country than either climate change or industrial pollution."

Monbiot worked as an investigative journalist in Brazil, Indonesia an
Sarah Clement
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthropocene
I really was not impressed with this book at first. I wanted a book on rewilding, and from the first page this seemed to be a record of Monbiot's mysterious adventures, boosted by delusions of grandeur. I suppose he wanted to set the tone and establish that this wasn't a dry, factual tome; but for me it just came off as pompous and distracting from the central point. As the book went on, however, it grew on me. I started to accept the book for what it really is; a sort of memoir of a British env ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals, real-world
I heard the author on NPR so I had to read the book. The book is somewhat disjointed. It's got passion but too much info. But still read it. It's very informative. You learn about trophic cascades and shifting balance syndrome among other things. Monbiot is a revolutionary, an iconoclast, a pragmatist, and someone who should be in charge of making things happen. If you think the US is messed up in terms of its conservation you should look at the UK which Monbiot mercilessly grills over its inane ...more
Maayan K
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[...] I had banished my ecological boredom. The world had become alive with meaning, alive with possibility. The trees now bore the marks of elephants; their survival in the gorge prefigured the return of wolves. [...] the depleted land and sea were now gravid with promise. For the first time in years, I felt that I belonged in the world.

Warning: You might hate sheep by the end of this book.

A year and a half ago I read J.B. MacKinnon's book The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It I
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’ve done quite well to avoid leaving reviews on goodreads so far, but I notice that a few friends on here have this book on their ‘want to read’ list - so this is for them.

I was so excited to read this book. I really was. I knew that there would be parts of this book that I would disagree with but that wouldn’t usually put me off a book as of course it shouldn’t. The problem is though that despite taking a run at this with a measure of excitement and anticipation I was instead left overwhelmin
I wish I could give this book a higher score - it is really interesting but there is too much Monbiot romanticizing the bronze age and too much Monbioit's journaling for the book to feel like a complete thesis. This book is about rewilding the world around us, which can be an incredibly important movement in our world today with the re-introducing of beavers, wolves, and other corner stone animals. Monbiot writes from Wales, so his book only lightly touches on the importance of wolves in Yellows ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Monbiot covers some interesting ground about restoring process rather than specific structure to "rewild" landscapes, but for the most part the book kept me asking, "when is he going to get to the point"? He wanders through all sorts of his own adventures and some interesting biological history of Europe but in the end doesn't really put together a cohesive story. At least it didn't work for me. I gave up about 2/3 of the way through frustrated with his lack of focus and often pompous attitude. ...more
‘A raucous summer…’

In the past few years, I feel I have been observing a welcome note of commonsense and even optimism creeping into the arguments of some of our leading environmentalists. In this book Monbiot, while proposing ambitious and doubtless controversial ideas, confirms that impression.

Feral is his story of why and how he has come to believe that the future for nature conservancy is to stop conserving - to sit back, release the brakes and go on a wild ride with nature in the driving se
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We all have the need - buried deep in our psyche - to once in a while experience something truly wild. This is what Feral has convinced me of. George exquisitely describes a frustration that I've recently felt; one that stems from a modern life where our basic human needs are increasingly met through consumerism. Skills that were once necessary for survival have died out, and with them to a large extent has gone our respect for the natural world. Meandering back and forth between his own amazing ...more
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My husband read this and seemed to be enjoying it a lot. I found the title and concept intriguing. I admit that when my husband looked up occasionally from the book to tell me what was happening it sounded like Monbiot was having a midlife crisis. With these reservations in mind I started the book and it was true he was having a midlife crisis. His life wasn't exciting enough anymore since he had kids and had to be responsible and not go off to war zones to report and what not. Each chapter open ...more
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I don't think I can exaggerate the impact of this text upon my thinking.

Whilst born and partly educated in the suburbs, most of my life has been spent in the countryside and I readily identify as a member of the rural community (minus the flat cap, cider addiction and thick West Country accent) and my recent academic explorations focused on reintroducing woodland to the catchment of the Somerset Levels: had I read Monbiot prior to finishing, I would either have been far more radical in my interv
Pete Trewin
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, thought-provoking book. George Monbiot makes the arguments for and against his case - that parts of the British Isles should be 'rewilded' to what they were in pre-history - and lets you decide for yourself. I like that. And as a qualified zoologist he certainly knows his stuff. No sentimental love of large predators here (a point of view that often goes with a quasi-fascist disdain for the human beings who live in their habitats). No, it is carefully argued on scientific - and in p ...more
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been following George Monbiot through his Guardian column for many years and always enjoyed his old-fashioned passion and his sparking social conscience as he writes on everything from the environment to the economy. This was the first of his books that I've read and while recognizing his mildly sarcastic and very English wit and his lucid views, I was pleasantly surprised to also make acquaintance with another side to his writing, a side which doesn't always come across in his more journ ...more
Brian Griffith
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals, ecology
Monbiot gives a series of eloquent, detailed accounts of his little adventures in wilderness areas, where he finds that the connection to the enormity of life hits him like a wave of sheer vitality. This is not a book of altruism toward nature. It's a book of passionate enjoyment and thirst for the joy of life. And for Monbiot, that means finding ways to let wildness flourish. He wants creatures that have been extinct in Britain for hundreds of years to return. He wants the long-barren mountains ...more
Daren Kearl
Got to p103 and decided not to read any further. Monbiot's research and descriptions are interesting and poetic, but his suggestions to return to an ecosystem that was 40,000 years ago by re-introducing animals and removing sheep so that trees can re-establish themselves on the hills of Wales and Scotland are too radical. Whether he likes it or not, things have moved on with our intervention, and we cannot go back. As he accepts himself, a hunter gatherer lifestyle can only support a UK populati ...more
Chris Leuchtenburg
Jun 14, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
I didn't get very far into this book. At least the first several chapters are about Monbiot's experiences in the wild, not about re-anything. There is an entire chapter detailing his kayaking out to sea to catch Mackerel. Too much Hemingway manliness and not enough about changing ecosystems. ...more
Andrea McDowell
I am, first of all, so thankful that George Monbiot broke his mold and spent a book writing about something with more hopeful overtones than the end of the world. Not that the end of the world isn't a worthy subject for a life's work, but as a change of pace, was it ever nice not to read about death and destruction on every single page. Thank you, George.

Feral is about rewilding. Not conservation, which he equates to a "prison" in which well-intentioned folks try to arrest ecosystems in artifici
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and it's taken me ages to read it. I basically only finished it to write this review. Some of the prose is very captivating, but some of it is rather purple. I'd cut out the whole first chapter, too.

My feelings about this book are summed up in the words of a Welsh farmer who the author interviews on page 176-177. The author calls it "the subject that divided us", and the farmer says "I'm not against something new...but it should be progression from
J. Muro
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic read, and nicely researched. Loved this book! Four stars for that. Not five, because it still needs more research and work, besides just the author's intermittent brief adventures outside for a certain amount of time, because he wanted or needed to. And how outside is just "fun and beautiful," while as a former conscious child, and later a very aware adult parent.
Felt as if it was mostly written from his own need, want, lust, experiences, privileges, and more for more "wild" things
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an eye-opening and frankly awakening read. Monbiot is a magnificent writer, but his passion for the wild and the need to stop with our "conservation" efforts is forceful, lyrical in places and finally persuasive. There are passages where you can feel you are there with him. His trip in a kayak in search of albacore was one of those which were breath-taking in sincerity and in bringing the reader along with him.

This is not about throwing a picnic blanket on the ground, skimming a rock ove
Wendy Wagner
A bit of a slow (albeit fun) start. The middle section, mostly spent discussing conservation and forestry efforts in Scotland, is absolutely riveting. Inspiring stuff!
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant storytelling, groundbreaking in its portrayal of the natural world. Been meaning to read this for so long and finally did. So worth it. Put it at the top of your list.
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“But rewilding, unlike conservation, has no fixed objective: it is driven not by human management but by natural processes. There is no point at which it can be said to have arrived. Rewilding of the kind that interests me does not seek to control the natural world, to re-create a particular ecosystem or landscape, but – having brought back some of the missing species – to allow it to find its own way.” 6 likes
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