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Good Reads  Natural History  General Natural History

Beastly The Epic 40,000-Year History of Animals and Us

By: Keggie Carew(Author)
368 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Canongate
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  • Beastly ISBN: 9781786896933 Paperback May 2024 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
  • Beastly ISBN: 9781786896902 Hardback Apr 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
Selected version: £19.99
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

In a Polish forest, a young woman befriends a boar. An Englishman sets up home with two beavers in Saskatchewan. A zoologist watches a fish make a conscious decision. Darwin finds the evidence for evolution in the backyards of pigeon fanciers. The entire population of Croatia anxiously awaits the arrival of a single stork. A gorilla cracks a joke.

Animals have shaped our lives, our land, our civilisation, and they will shape our future. Yet as our impact on the world and the animals we share it with increases, there has never been a greater urgency to understand this foundational relationship.

Beastly is the 40,000-year story of animals and humans as it has never been captured before, seen eye-to-eye and claw-to-hand through those humans who have stepped into the myriad worlds of our animal relatives. Our relationship with animals has always been paradoxical, but the greatest paradox may yet be this: diversity of life can heal ecosystems. Animals – if given the chance – could save us.

Customer Reviews


Keggie Carew is the author of Dadland, which won the 2016 COSTA biography award, and Quicksand Tales. Before writing, her career was in contemporary art. Keggie lives with her husband Jonathan in Wiltshire where they have a small nature reserve.

By: Keggie Carew(Author)
368 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Canongate
Media reviews

"A dazzling examination of our contradictory attitudes towards the creatures with whom we share the planet [...] [A] fantastic, heartfelt history of human-animal relations"

"[A] heartfelt account of the environmental catastrophe [...] Beastly is a clarion call for the humbler notion that every bit of nature matters"

"A positive, information-packed read about reconnecting with our wild world"

"If you are interested in the animal kingdom; if you are interested in the past, present and future of planet Earth; if you are interested in anything at all – then this gorgeous, joyous, sobering book is for you"
Irish Times

"Reading Beastly is a little like padding, barefoot, through a forest [...] Heartfelt"
New Statesman

"What a wonderful and unexpected book. The very opposite of beastly: heavenly and amazing, powerful and affecting, a beloved and very fine teller of tales reminds us how small we are in the face of a nature that we neither understand nor wish to respect or, in any real sense, live with"
– Philippe Sands

"A brilliant and insightful selection of revealing stories about our complicated relationship with other animals, told with Carew's uniquely smart and stylish verve. A hugely enjoyable, thought-provoking book"
– Gaia Vince

"Many stories linger after reading Beastly: a polyphony in which tale after tale accumulates [...] The book is exhilaratingly busy with ideas [...] A cunningly structured book"

"Full of necessary rage, joy and passion: Beastly should be mandatory reading for all humans"
– Claire Fuller

"[An] entertaining and mind-expanding book so full of surprising facts and fascinating stories that my copy has practically every page folded down or highlighted or annotated with exclamation marks. Keggie's writing makes me laugh but it also makes me think; the perfect combination. Beastly is a brilliant book for anyone who questions how we might live more ethically, more harmoniously and more happily alongside the other creatures in this crowded and beautiful world"
– Cal Flyn

"This book is sensational. I am fascinated by the animals, as I thought I would be, but I am equally fascinated by the humans. The writing is so beautiful. The most natural writer there ever was. I MEAN IT!"
– Laura Cumming

"Moving, poignant yet funny. A charmingly eccentric exploration of our increasingly dysfunctional relationship with nature, peppered with peculiar, remarkable tales both joyous and sad"
– Dave Goulson

"This book is OUTSTANDING. The way Keggie breathes life into the animals (and humans) whose tales she tells, with such passion and purpose, is brilliant. And all that research! I have been deeply affected by what I have read and learned [...] In fact Beastly is one of only a handful of books which have pretty much left me lost for words. Suffice to say I would challenge anyone to read it from cover to cover and not feel impelled to up their game"
– Brigit Strawbridge

"A hugely entertaining, insightful and far-reaching look into the fascinating complexity of our relationships with animals. The writing sparkles with wit and wisdom, allowing us to see ourselves through the eyes of the non-humans we so carelessly share this planet with"
– Lee Schofield

"Emblazoned on the imagination, written with empathy and enrapturement [...] It is a wonderful book and what it does well is to make you snort and honk in laughter, woop at animal tenacity and make you cry for our aching world – summoning your snivelling, animal, mammal self"
Caught by the River

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