Swifts live in perpetual summer. They inhabit the air like nothing on the planet. They watched the continents shuffle to their present places and the mammals evolve. They are not ours, though we like to claim them. They defy all our categories, and present no passports as they surf the winds across the worlds. They sleep in the high thin air – their wings controlled by an alert half-brain.
This is a radical new look at the Common Swift – a numerous but profoundly un-common bird – by Charles Foster, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Being a Beast. Foster follows the swifts throughout the world, manically, lyrically, yet scientifically. The poetry of swifts is in their facts, and The Screaming Sky, the latest in Little Toller's monograph series, draws deeply on the latest extraordinary discoveries.
Charles Foster is a writer, philosopher, and Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. He is the author of many books, including the ground-breaking Being a Beast, which is a New York Times Bestseller, was long-listed for the Baillie Gifford and Wainwright Prizes, won an IgNobel Prize and the Deux Million d’Amis prize, and is the subject of a forthcoming feature film. He lives in Oxford and a remote part of the southern Peloponnese.
"[...] The Screaming Sky follows a more philosophical approach, musing on the old question of What is it like to be a Swift?, coupled with a description of the author's experiences while following the year-long migration cycle of the European Swift between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. The author is an English writer, traveller, veterinarian, taxidermist, barrister and philosopher, somewhat of a polymath, [...] It is fair to say Charles Foster is an obsessive where Swifts are concerned, making annual visits to places on their migration journey. Along the way we get a good selection of the history, literature and biology of the Swift, but not in a very orderly or comprehensive progression. [...] The book is a diary of the author's consuming obsession, but also one designed to make you think about difficult issues, still patchily illuminated by science, using the Swift as an exemplar: a true piece of Natural Philosophy."
– Roger Moses, Ibis, May 2022