Swifts are among the most extraordinary of all birds. Their migrations span continents and their twelve-week stopover, when they pause to breed in European rooftops, is the very definition of summer. They may nest in our homes but much about their lives passes over our heads. No birds are more wreathed in mystery.
Captivated by swifts throughout his fifty years as a naturalist, Mark Cocker sets out to capture their essence. Over the course of one day in midsummer he devotes himself to his beloved black birds as they spiral overhead. Yet this is also a book about so much more. Swifts are a prism through which Cocker explores the profound interconnections of the whole biosphere. From the deep-sea thermal vents where life was born to the 15 million degrees at the core of our Sun, he shows that life is a singular and glorious continuum. These birds without borders are a perfect symbol to express the unity of the living planet. But they also illuminate how no creature, least of all ourselves, can be said to be alive in isolation. We are all inextricably connected.
Drawing deeply on science, history, literature and a lifetime of close observation, One Midsummer's Day is a dazzling and wide-ranging celebration of all life on Earth by one of our greatest nature writers.
Mark Cocker is an author and naturalist whose thirteen books include works of biography, history, literary criticism and memoir. His book Crow Country was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2008 and won the New Angle Prize for Literature in 2009. With the photographer David Tipling he published Birds & People in 2013, a massive survey described by the Times Literary Supplement as 'a major literary event as well as an ornithological one'. Our Place: Can We Save Britain's Wildlife Before It Is Too Late? was described by the Sunday Times as 'impassioned, expert and always beautifully written ... a sobering and magnificent work'. His most recent book, A Claxton Diary, won the East Anglian Book of the Year Award in 2019.
"Lyrical and startling by turn, he reveals the extraordinary in the apparently ordinary [...] A jewel of a book."
– Caroline Lucas
"Magnificent [...] One Midsummer's Day situates both swifts and humans in the universe in a way that I've not seen done for any species [...] a beautifully poised book."
– Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast and Being a Human