Raptor: Book summary and reviews of Raptor by James Macdonald Lockhart

Raptor

A Journey through Birds

by James Macdonald Lockhart

Raptor by James Macdonald Lockhart X
Raptor by James Macdonald Lockhart
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About this book

Book Summary

A hymn to wanderers, to the land and to the sky, and especially to the birds, Raptor soars.

From the merlin to the golden eagle, the goshawk to the honey buzzard, James Macdonald Lockhart's stunning debut is a quest of beak, talon, wing, and sky. On its surface, Raptor is a journey across the British Isles in search of fifteen species of birds of prey, but as Lockhart seeks out these elusive predators, his quest becomes so much more: an incomparably elegant elegy on the beauty of the British landscape and, through the birds, a journey toward understanding an awesome power at the heart of the natural world - a power that is majestic and frightening in its strength, but also fragile.

Taking as his guide the nineteenth-century Scottish naturalist and artist William MacGillivray, Lockhart loosely follows the historical trail forged by MacGillivray as he ventured from Aberdeen to London filling his pockets with plants and writing and illustrating the canonical A History of British Birds. Linking his journey to that of his muse, Lockhart shares his own encounters with raptors ranging from the scarce osprey to the successfully reintroduced red kite, a species once protected by medieval royal statute, revealing with poetic immediacy the extraordinary behaviors of these birds and the extreme environments they call home.

Creatures both worshipped and reviled, raptors have a talon-hold on the human heart and imagination. With his book, Lockhart unravels these complicated ties in a work by turns reverent and euphoric—an interweaving of history, travel, and nature writing at its best.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This illuminating book serves as homage to a brilliant naturalist and extraordinary birds. If you loved H Is for Hawk, put this next on your reading list." - Kirkus

"For those with a serious interest in nature and British history." - Library Journal

"Lockhart's soaring debut is a perfect synthesis of travel writing and natural history ... Following in the tradition of T. H. White's The Goshawk, J. A. Baker's The Peregrine, and, most recently, Helen Macdonald's rapturously received H is for Hawk, Lockhart elegantly depicts these creatures of the sky and, in so doing, celebrates the natural richness of the country over which they fly." - Financial Times (UK)

"The birds and the landscapes are all beautifully evoked, and there are many breathtaking turns of phrase. Lockhart also has a superb eye ... and makes some beautifully nuanced discriminations." - Jeremy Mynott, author of Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience, Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"Lockhart is a wonderfully modest presence. ... He has mastered an engaging present-tense prose that brings out both the birds' ecstatic gifts of flight but also the tragedy and triumph of their predatory lifestyle. ... His descriptions ... are as precise as they are inventive." - The Observer (UK)

"In flight—as Lockhart rhapsodies—nothing is more graceful than a hawk sailing the wind. The sight, for those with eyes to see, leaves the watcher, with an ounce of poetry in their soul, 'rapt.' Nowhere is the paradox of nature's combined beauty and cruelty more perfectly embodied than in these winged raptors." - The Times (UK)

"Lush." - The Literary Review (UK)

"Outstanding... The writing is beautifully precise. ... For Lockhart, it becomes clear, wild birds of prey represent the living spirit of a place—of Britain. In this delicate, complex, open-ended book, full of freshness and movement, he captures that wild spirit without ever making it feel captive." - The Sunday Times (UK)

"Lockhart's prose is . . . so intimate, urgent, and visceral as to make his darkly resonant ruminations almost unfailingly gripping." - The Independent (UK)

"Lockhart's exquisite, poetic language is a sensuous delight without sacrificing scientific accuracy. Raptor is, quite simply, a tour de force." - The Daily Mail (UK)

"Lockhart's own understanding of raptor ethology shines. His journey—intercut with passages by Victorian ornithologist William MacGillivray—flings us into skies where a hobby 'concertinas' the air, or a marsh harrier's ruff gives it the air of an Elizabethan grandee." - Nature (UK)

"This is an extremely well-made book. For a first, it's remarkably achieved. ... Lockhart ... is stepping towards the distinguished company of the great modern literary books on birds of prey. ... But Raptor also makes its own way with originality and authenticity. The writing, at times, is as good as anything we have on the subject to date." - Country Life (UK)

"Any bird of prey fan, particularly those with an interest in these spectacular birds' changing fortunes over time, will find it irresistible, and it is thoroughly recommended." - Rob Hume, author of Life with Birds BirdGuides

This information about Raptor shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

James Macdonald Lockhart

James Macdonald Lockhart was born in 1975. Raptor is his first book and the recipient of the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction. He lives in Warwickshire, United Kingdom.

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