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

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,877 ratings  ·  252 reviews
To be an environmentalist early in the twenty-first century is always to be defending, arguing, acknowledging the hurdles we face in our efforts to protect wild places and fight climate change. But let’s be honest: hedging has never inspired anyone.
 
So what if we stopped hedging? What if we grounded our efforts to solve environmental problems in hope instead, and let nat
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Paperback, 344 pages
Published April 26th 2017 by University of Chicago Press (first published May 14th 2013)
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Zanna
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
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
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Paul
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 r
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Anna
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
Jude Bee
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
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
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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
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Chris
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
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
Sarah Clement
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Christopher
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
Jonathan
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Pete Trewin
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Leah
‘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
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Wanda
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
Marie
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
John
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
Michelle
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
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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.
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!
Pete
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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Alex McGilvery
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feral is a non-fiction book on the subject of rewilding. Rewilding is allowing large spaces of land to return to an uncontrolled state. It is the uncontrolled portion of the definition that is especially important to Monbiot. He suggests that when we try to control how the ecosystem will be revived, that we limit our vision. We set the bar too low and fail to see the possible complexities that may arise. The job of the human species is to re-introduce some animals into areas that they are extinc ...more
Linnaea
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
Oliver
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lyrically brilliant exploration of the UK's landscape and ecology. Mr Monbiot certainly has a clear bias, but this becomes increasingly acknowledged as the book continues and while it is clear he remains convinced of the themes he is championing, he does a good job of engaging with and wrestling to an extent with other points of view he feels he cannot just dismiss. This makes the book feel like it is evolving beneath your feet (eyes?) as you make your way towards the end. The narrative perhap ...more
Charlie Edwards
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

This book introduces the idea of "rewilding", a concept I'd not heard until I picked up the book itself, with such clarity and evocative writing, that it's hard to argue against the cause. I'd consider myself an immediate convert to the idea, which as far as I can tell has no massive drawbacks. If you've come across the movement before, then this book will further elaborate on the positive outcomes should society push for rewilding on a larger scale.

What fascinates me most is the pro
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Tom
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Feral is a series of essays about the natural world and the incredible adventures of a middle-aged man as he romps about in it. Case studies concerning sheep in England and wolves in Yellowstone and their effect on their respective ecosystems provide backbone to romantic pining for a lost viridity. Real solutions are not offered, just suggestions. A career in journalism and a background in activism provide fodder for explorations made into the many causes of environmental degradation. Reintroduc ...more
Helen McClory
Take this book on its own terms -as a biography of one man's rediscovery of his passion for nature - and you'll get more out of it than if you approach it as a scientific work the issue of rewilding. There are lots of deviations into fishing trips which make more sense (and are more enjoyable) as the first rather than the second.
Meg
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I thought this book was interesting at times, I found that I disagreed with many of the opinions/statements made by Monbiot, particularly those related to game keepers and the lack of need for conservationists, like me.
Andrew
This book, and the ideas within, have been in the news in the UK a lot recently. It is about ‘rewilding’ parts of the countryside and sea around the UK, a process which has been going on in parts of continental Europe and North America for many years now, but is still controversial in the UK.

The author is a campaigner on environmental issues, and uses the book to argue his case that current mainstream farming practice in the UK is harming the wildlife and environment. He thinks that the lack of
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“I thought of walks in the English countryside, where people start shouting at you as soon as you stray from the footpath.” 4 likes
“Oh, so Mother Nature needs a favour? Well maybe She should have thought of that when She was besetting us with droughts and floods and poisonous snakes. Nature started the fight for survival and now She wants to quit because She's losing? Well I say 'Hard Chesse!” 1 likes
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