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H Is for Hawk (2014)

by Helen Macdonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,3432382,866 (3.86)1 / 465
When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer captivated by hawks since childhood, she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators: the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral anger mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel and turned to the guidance of The Sword and the Stone author T. H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her journey into Mabel's world. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity.… (more)
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» See also 465 mentions

English (230)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (234)
Showing 1-5 of 230 (next | show all)
Surprisingly readable. Well constructed prose that weaves Macdonald’s falconry experiences into her interpretation of T. H. White’s, both locked in an obsessive battle of wills with goshawks to process grief. Macdonald shows scholarly appreciation for history, literary criticism, and linguistics (a hawk in hunting condition is in yarak, Turkish for weapon but commonly slang for dick). More disciplined editing, esp. in her passages on White, could have made the book tighter. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
H IS FOR HAWK is written by Helen Macdonald. Ms. Macdonald is an English writer, naturalist and an affiliated research scholar at the University of Cambridge.
H IS FOR HAWK has won untold prizes and recognition. The title appears on many (too many to count) Best Books Lists.
H IS FOR HAWK is a book about falconry.
It is a book about training a goshawk.
It is a memoir; an auto-biographical account of a period in Ms. Macdonald’s life when she was reeling from the sudden death of her father.
It is a book about deep, all-consuming sorrow and despair. A book about grief, loss and ultimately hope.
I was very interested in the study of falconry with its world-wide, diverse cultures and techniques. Fascinating. I always like a ‘naturalist’s’ point of view and descriptions.
The lyrical narrative was very mesmerizing.
It was a love poem to birds, in general. An ode to hawks, in particular.
Much of the book was taken up with Ms. Macdonald’s study of T. H. White. While I found ‘her’ writing very interesting, I was not at all impressed with T.H. White.
I also found all the death and the tearing apart of small animals’ limbs and organs very off-putting.
Some of the passages resonated so much with me that I include them here.
“Looking for goshawks is like looking for grace: it comes, but not often, and you don’t get to say when or how.” p. 5
“”Hunting with the hawk took me to the very edge of being a human. Then it took me past that place to somewhere I wasn’t human at all. The hawk in flight, me running after her, the land and the air a pattern of deep and curving detail, sufficient to block out anything like the past or the future.” p. 195
“Hunting makes you an animal, but the death of an animal makes you human.” p.196

A very resonating memoir. Highly recommended. **** ( )
  diana.hauser | Apr 17, 2021 |
I read this after watching Helen's PBS show about her second goshawk, so I'm very late to add any comments to the enormous number of reviews already provided! Although the aspects of White's experiences with his hawk efforts were interesting, I was much more interested in Helen's work, especially in relation to how it connected with her grief over her father's death---but perhaps the contrast was needed. As for the whole idea of falconry---I'm less than enthused over the history of using these magnificent wild creatures to train them to do what?? Helen was looking for a relationship with these birds and she certainly succeeded but I'm afraid I still think they should be just observed from afar. ( )
  nyiper | Mar 29, 2021 |
Ho letto la recensione e ho acquistato il libro. Ho iniziato a leggerlo con la solita avidità ma, mano a mano, le pagine non scorrevano più. Finchè mi sono arenata, dopo un centinaio o poco più.

Sono pensieri di chi ha subito una perdita e dovrebbero avere un filo conduttore, la falconeria. Ma non fila, non è scorrevole, vi sono rimandi a libri sulla materia, citazioni, molti termini tecnici, nomi di uccelli, di versi di uccelli, di piumaggi. Ma non vi ho trovato un aggancio alla mia sensibilità.

E quindi lo mollo. Perchè, come dice Stephen King, il lettore, tra i suoi diritti, ha quello di mollare il libro che sta leggendo, senza rimorsi.
( )
  LauraLaLunga | Feb 15, 2021 |
Initially, I loved this book, which felt like it was going to be a love story about a bird that had once seemed to teeter on the brink of extinction. But it soon shifted as it felt like a story as much about TH White and what a despicable, selfish jerk he was as anything else. I don't care why he was the way he was, hearing how he treated his hawk was just painful page-filler. When the only character I cared about - the hawk - began to take on a minor role, the book just began to feel like somebody's self-indulgent blog. ( )
  GiGiGo | Feb 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 230 (next | show all)
Helen Macdonald’s beautiful and nearly feral book, “H Is for Hawk,” her first published in the United States, reminds us that excellent nature writing can lay bare some of the intimacies of the wild world as well. Her book is so good that, at times, it hurt me to read it. It draws blood, in ways that seem curative.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Dwight Garner (Feb 17, 2015)
 

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Helen Macdonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wormell, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Forty-five minutes north-east of Cambridge is a landscape I've come to love very much indeed.
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The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten.
Using his pencil, he shaded the page of his notebook with graphite, and there, white on grey, impressed on the paper from the missing page above, was the registration number of the secret plane. He stopped crying, he said, and cycled home in triumph.
There is something religious about the activity of looking up at a hawk in a tall tree.
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When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer captivated by hawks since childhood, she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators: the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral anger mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel and turned to the guidance of The Sword and the Stone author T. H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her journey into Mabel's world. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity.

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