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Driven grouse shooting, where flocks of Red Grouse are chased by lines of beaters so that they fly over lines of 'guns' that shoot the fast-flying birds, is a peculiarly British fieldsport. It is also peculiarly British in that it is deeply rooted in the British class system. This multi-million pound business dominates the hills of the north of England – the Pennines, the North Yorkshire Moors, the Cheviots – and throughout Scotland. Grouse shooting is big business. VERY big business. And backed by powerful, wealthy lobbying groups, its tendrils run throughout British society.
Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands makes the case for banning driven grouse shooting. The facts and arguments are presented fairly but the author, Mark Avery, states from the start why he has, after many years of soul-searching, come down in favour of an outright ban. There is too much illegal killing of wildlife, such as Buzzards, Golden Eagles, and, most egregiously of all, Hen Harriers; and, as a land use, it wrecks the ecology of the hills. However, grouse shooting is economically important, and it is a great British tradition. All of these, and other points of view, are given fair and detailed treatment and analysis – and the author talks to a range of people on different sides of the debate.
The book also sets out Avery's campaign with Chris Packham to gain support for the proposal to ban grouse shooting, culminating in 'Hen Harrier Day', timed to coincide with the 'Glorious' 12th.
Ever-controversial, Mark Avery is guaranteed to stir up a debate about fieldsports, the countryside and big business in a book that all British conservationists will want to read.
For fifteen years, Mark Avery was the Conservation Director of the RSPB. He is a well-known and highly respected blogger, public speaker and writer on UK nature conservation and environmental issues. A scientist by training, and a conservationist most of his life, Mark has written a hard-hitting, passionate but well-researched book about the conflict between driven grouse shooting and nature conservation and environmental sustainability. His previous book for Bloomsbury was A Message from Martha, the story of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.
"A powerful indictment of the grouse-shooting industry and its illegal shooting and propaganda war against the hen harrier."
– Stephen Moss, the Guardian
"No other book this year put the cat amongst the pigeons (or rather, the game birds) like Avery's impassioned investigation into driven grouse shooting and its impact on moorland ecology."
– The Times
"This is a book you must read whether or not you support such shooting."
– Highland News Group
"Pacy and passionate, this is nature writing that insists you sit up and take note."
– Stephanie Cross, The Lady
"Mr Avery writes with a light touch and endearing self-depreciation. He's passionate (obsessed?) about the hen harrier."
– Country Life
"[...] If you like Mark Avery’s style of writing and his mix of narrative and travel-log, then you will like this book. As ever, he does a good job of interweaving scientific evidence with a more personal narrative, which makes the information accessible to a wide audience. This is a book that anyone can pick-up and read, with very nice summaries of key points at the end of each chapter. My one frustration though, was that in some areas, it felt a partisan review of the subject, and that some important issues, such as the association between grouse moors and breeding wader populations, were given scant attention. To summarise, if you are interested in Hen Harriers, red grouse or the future of the UK uplands, and would like to understand why Mark Avery is against driven grouse shooting, then read Inglorious."
– James Pearce-Higgins, BTO book reviews
"[...] Mark Avery is someone you'd much prefer on your side than against you, and Inglorious is a remarkable book. Established 'sporting' practices have rarely been challenged like this or come under such clear-eyed scrutiny – and even more rarely in a book aimed squarely at the everyday birder and general public rather than specialists. Anyone with the slightest interest in why we're missing so many Hen Harriers from upland moorlands and why we're increasingly hearing concerns about the state of some of our most beautiful countryside, really should read this book. If your interest extends into involvement and activism, you will find Inglorious empowering. If your interest in Red Grouse is purely financial, you've clearly hacked Mark Avery off, and frankly you've only yourself to blame for the consequences."
– Charlie Moores, Monday 20th July 2015, www.birdguides.com