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The Seabird's Cry

The Lives and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean Voyagers
Durée : 9 h et 46 min

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The story of how we have always been stirred by seabirds, the patterns of their lives, their habitats, the threats they face, the folklore and the inspiration they've brought to poets, writers, musicians and painters in their extraordinarily long lives.

We have lived with seabirds for at least 300,000 years. From the beginning our view of them has been double, as creatures that are both deeply distant and yet strangely connected to us, both oceanic in what they represent and a mirror of what we are. They stand in for our relationship with nature as a whole. We use them and love them, nurture them and destroy them, revere them and make toys and hats and dinner out of them.

It is a pattern that has evolved over history, and our relationship with seabirds has moved through these phases like steps in a game of hopscotch. At each moment one part recognizes the otherness of the birds; one sees them as an aspect of who we are. But the four phases are all one: eat them, revere them; sell them, admire them; disrupt their world, try to protect them; destroy the ocean, grasp their genius.

Through much of human time, and at a foundation level, the model has been one of predation and reverence. We both took the birds and saw something magical in them. They were food and poetry, metaphors for what we are or might be and sustenance for often poor and marginal island and coastal communities. In a beautiful evocation of the natural world that we both abuse and treasure, The Seabird's Cry tells long story of seabirds as a barometer of human life on earth.

©2017 Adam Nicolson (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers


"Exceptionally well done, beautifully written, personal yet panoramic." ( Observer)
"An extraordinarily outward-looking book...a truly passionate attention to detail.... A love-letter no one else could hope to write so well." ( Sunday Telegraph)
"A passionate evocation, a compression of observation and anecdote which catches you up in its intelligence as well as its enthusiasm, and fill you with homesickness for a place you've never been to." ( Daily Telegraph)

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Michal
  • 18/02/2019

Incredible book. Educating and inspired

This book absolutely stands out. It's just extremely well written. Some other books on nature are either utterly dry (mind of the raven) or diverge too much from the topic at hand (story of cod). Other books in this genre are milestones of literature (gathering moss, hidden life of trees). The seabird's cry is easily a milestone. Never again will you look at a seabird as before reading/listening to this book. Just a big wow for me.

As for the narrator, he was quite good, although during couple of chapters in the middle, there are some sentences where he starts on a high note and finishes on a low. It turns into a slightly annoying pattern for a while, but then subsides. It isn't a deal breaker though, you should absolutely buy this book if you were considering it.