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A sacred god, a military tool, an erotic symbol: the falcon is a natural wonder of speed, power, beauty, and ferocity that has become embedded in human cultures in myriad ways. Helen Macdonald's Falcon examines the diverse symbolism and roles attached to the falcon throughout the centuries. Macdonald presents a cultural and natural history of the falcon that spans the globe and several millennia. Her wide-ranging survey considers the many facets of the falcon, including conservation efforts; the sport of falconry; and the use of falcons in secret military projects by the Third Reich and the U.S. space program. Falcon also explores the rich imagery of the falcon over history, including the veneration of falcons as gods in ancient Egypt, their role in erotic stories, and even the use of falcons in advertising to promote photocopiers and jet planes. Filled with illustrations and a wealth of fascinating facts, Falcon will be an enjoyable guide for ornithologists, amateur birdwatchers, and nature lovers alike.… (more)

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Raptors are at the pinnacle of evolution, from the huge eagles that soar in lazy arcs, the hawks that use all their guile and cunning and the falcons that are the Exocet missiles of the avian world; this book is the story of the falcon.

Humans and falcons have had a long history together, young birds were collected and trained for sport and hunting for millennia and it still carries on today in particular in the middle east. But it is a tempestuous relationship, there have been points where we have driven them to almost extinction. Thankfully they are making a comeback, partly as people are more aware of the natural world and care about it, but they have been moving from their original clifftop eyries to the heights of city skyscrapers, and what was once a rare sighting now is commonplace. Macdonald explores how they have entered our culture, given names to aircraft, been venerated way back to Egyptian times and were even used for secret missions during World War II.

Macdonald is better known for H is for Hawk, but she actually wrote this volume first. It is an interesting account of these beautiful but deadly creatures and is full of fascinating facts and some quite amazing pictures. In particular, I liked the photo of a skydiver alongside a peregrine and learning that at full chat when they reach speeds in excess of 200mph, they make a whistling sound as they cut through the air. Great little book, one for all lovers of raptors. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
By the author of [b: H is for Hawk|18803640|H is for Hawk|Helen Macdonald|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1442151714s/18803640.jpg|26732095], [b: Falcon|29999|The Maltese Falcon|Dashiell Hammett|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1306421260s/29999.jpg|980184] is a deep dive into the history and symbolism of - primarily - the peregrine falcon. While forays are made into the gyrfalcon and sakar falcon, the peregrine becomes a perfect symbol for falcons as a whole. Through the peregrines depredations due to hunting, and eventual extinction in America due to DDT, we can learn about the fate of other falcons. The success story of The Peregrine Fund and advent of falconers to save the species is an all too pertinent tale. So much good can come from dedicated work to restore a species - will that happen once more?

[a: Helen Macdonald|314021|Helen Macdonald|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1400594607p2/314021.jpg] understands the falcon as only one truly in love with the species does. She traces it as a symbol of aristocracy, of wilderness, of the natural, the urban natural, and as some seductive part of the self. We see ourselves as falcons, and yet falcons could so easily do without us. Doesn't that tell us everything about our relationship to the wild? The partnership between human and falcon in the sport of falconry is also addressed, as is the sheer depth of its history over time.

This is a valuable, fascinating, and eminently readable book. I highly recommend it not only to fans of [b: H is For Hawk|18803640|H is for Hawk|Helen Macdonald|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1442151714s/18803640.jpg|26732095] but also all those with an interest in nature and our relationship with it. This book sums is all up so beautifully through one of the most arresting and fascinating of species. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Not quite 4 stars, but close. Lovely pictures and lovely writing. After finishing the book I see it is one of a series on animals that range from oyster to whale - all of which look beautifully produced. There are 60-70 of them now and reviewers are mostly positive. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | May 27, 2018 |
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