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The Peregrine by J. A. Baker
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The Peregrine (1967)

by J. A. Baker

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» See also 18 mentions

English (6)  Dutch (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Most modern books of this style mix journal observations with a plot. This sticks to a pure journal format, with a few scientific details about peregrines toward the beginning. The journal is semi-fictional, condensing ten years to one. There is some growth in the observer and in one of the peregrines, with them achieving an eventual rapport—but this feels fictionalized.

Baker has a lot of empathy for the peregrines, and for their victims. He writes well. I evaluate books like this based on density of acute observations—without overwriting. This is worth three stars, but not more. ( )
  breic | Sep 18, 2018 |
A dream to read, full of stunning prose poetry. The author follows the birds to the exclusion of all else. Only rarely does a little of the human world seep in - that Baker uses a bicycle to chase the birds from place to place, that he sometimes eats lunch, sleeps in a house, remembers a moment from a childhood holiday.

What I'd love to see is an illustrated version with all of the birds he mentioned, with a little ecological explanation. ( )
  Beniaminus | Nov 1, 2017 |
J. A. Baker's The Peregrine is a remarkable achievement in nature writing for both its style and substance, easily among the finest ever in the category. The book, in diary form, details the author's extensive viewing and tracking of peregrine falcons, but more accurately, his obsessive stalking of these birds of breathtaking speed and predatory skill, in the Essex countryside outside London during the fall of 1962 through the spring of 1963.

Baker's singular style is the very model of concision. It is stark and stunning prose, often more like preternatural poetry, exceptional in its beauty. He is not simply reporting the activities of the peregrines, their prey, and their surroundings, he is fully within the action and its environs, and so, therefore, is the reader. It is an unmatched reading experience. Baker displays an uncanny ability to describe color, movement, landscape, and weather with brilliant clarity and nuance.

Though less than 200 pages, this is not a quick or easy read. Best digested in small bites, I found it too intense for long sessions. Also, there are many passages, individual sentences, and striking word combinations which must be reread a time or two and lingered over in order to fully appreciate.

There is a somewhat lurid focus on the peregrines' kills, unflinchingly described with a certain admiration. Indeed, as the seasons progress, the author increasingly identifies with the peregrine, simultaneously grousing a growing disdain for the human species: a thoroughly fascinating narrative posture. This is essential reading; an altogether unforgettable book. ( )
  ghr4 | Jun 19, 2017 |
The winner of the Duff Cooper Prize for Non Fiction in 1968, The Peregrine follows the lives of two pairs of peregrines in East Anglia from October to April. An intensely private man so lacking in desire for human contact that his date of death was unknown for many years, Baker has written an elegy to a raptor in terms so luminous, so glorious, so sparing that each word is a drop of elixir on the tongue. A fabulous, intense book imbued with neologisms that draw the reader into an impossible relationship of sodden human clod with the ethereal. ( )
1 vote ShelleyAlberta | Dec 4, 2016 |
aaronbaron says it perfectly. This is a bed of gems; of words and scenes and the occasional fact about, well, peregrines. A creme brulee of a book. It cries out to be transformed into one of those photo rich coffee table books, or selectively read into the background of a television documentary. As it stands, it's best in short doses as aaronbaron suggests. I can't think of any other book that it would naturally interleave with, but I have it sitting alongside T. H. White's 'Goshawk' on my shelf and it seems to fit very well there, a quite contrasted approach to the appreciation of beautiful wild birds. ( )
2 vote nandadevi | Mar 16, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
And that’s the plot: man goes out, man watches falcon and other birds, man goes home. You’d think that this narrative, continued over 190 pages, would be boring. It’s not, for it’s sustained by the gorgeous prose and Baker’s unique way of seeing.
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. A. Bakerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brusewitz, GunnarIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmberg, LarsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Macfarlane, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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East of my home, the long ridge lies across the skyline like the low hull of a submarine.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0893011150, Paperback)

From fall to spring, J.A. Baker set out to track the daily comings and goings of a pair of peregrine falcons across the flat fen lands of eastern England. He followed the birds obsessively, observing them in the air and on the ground, in pursuit of their prey, making a kill, eating, and at rest, activities he describes with an extraordinary fusion of precision and poetry. And as he continued his mysterious private quest, his sense of human self slowly dissolved, to be replaced with the alien and implacable consciousness of a hawk.

It is this extraordinary metamorphosis, magical and terrifying, that these beautifully written pages record.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:11 -0400)

"From fall to spring, J. A. Baker set out to track the daily comings and goings of a pair of peregrine falcons across the flat fen lands of eastern England. He followed the birds obsessively, observing them in the air and on the ground, in pursuit of their prey, making a kill, eating, and at rest, activities he describes with an extraordinary fusion of precision and poetry. And as he continued his mysterious private quest, his sense of human self slowly dissolved, to be replaced with the alien and implacable consciousness of a hawk."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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