376 pages, no illustrations
Of all the birds of the British Isles, the raptor reigns supreme, sparking the imagination like no other. In this magnificent hymn to these beautiful animals, James Macdonald Lockhart explores all fifteen breeding birds of prey on these shores – from the hen harrier swimming over the land in the dregs of a May gale on Orkney, to the ghostly sparrowhawk displaying in the fields around his home in Warwickshire. This is a book that will change how we think of our own skies.
"Lockhart's prose is usually so intimate, urgent, and visceral as to make his darkly resonant ruminations almost unfailingly gripping"
"A hymn in praise of living, soaring, terrifying grandeur [...] From the first page, his exquisite, poetic language is a sensuous delight without sacrificing scientific accuracy. Raptor is, quite simply, a tour de force"
– Daily Mail
"James MacDonald Lockhart puts the rapture back in the raptor. This is in-the-moment writing, raw in beak and claw. With its gorgeously felt sense of life and place, Raptor rips at its words, turning them into exquisite portraits of the utter wild, shaping soaring, obsessive beauty out of the British landscape and its imperial birds. A true heir to J.A. Baker's The Peregrine, and T.H. White's The Goshawk, this is a unique and wonderful work."
– Philip Hoare
"James MacDonald Lockhart's soaring debut is a perfect synthesis of travel writing and natural history [...] He laces vivid prose with illuminating facts to explore his own colourful experiences without shifting focus from the birds themselves [...] Lockhart elegantly depicts these creatures of the sky and, in doing so, celebrates the natural richness of the country over which they fly"
– Financial Times
"If you publish a book on birds of prey in the tumultuous wake of Helen MacDonald's prizewinning H is for Hawk, you expect comparisons. James MacDonald Lockhart can relax. His book is outstanding [...] His facts are couched in unusual and resonant contexts [...] 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"
– Sunday Times
"There is much to like, with ornithological instruction leavened by general knowledge and travel to entertain a broad readership"
"Lockhart 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"
"Lockhart is stepping towards the distinguished company of the great modern literary books on birds of prey [...] The writing, at times, is as good as anything we have on the subject to date"
– Country Life
"His understanding of raptor ethology shines"
"[...] 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, BirdGuides, 31-08-2016
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James Macdonald Lockhart is an associate editor of, and regular contributor to, Archipelago Magazine, and a literary agent at Antony Harwood Limited.