Countryfile's best nature and wildlife books for 2023
Shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize
'Elegiac, informative and funny; some truly magical encounters in the wild' Peter Fiennes
Britain is teeming with wildlife, often in the most unexpected places. There are stone mines where bats hang out with pot-smoking teenagers and water voles thrive without water in Glaswegian parklands. Our coastlines are laden with seals. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a quarter of British mammals are at imminent risk of extinction.
Tim Kendall and Fiona Mathews take us on a safari unlike any other. Armed with binoculars, a Thermos and, regrettably, an inexhaustible supply of puns, they travel from Scotland to the Isles of Scilly in search of their elusive subjects.
You’ll find answers to questions you never thought to ask: do pine marten droppings really smell like Parma Violets? Should we give squirrels access to family planning? And what do wild boar have in common with a certain royal? Black Ops and Beaver Bombing is a celebration of Britain’s marvellous mammals, and a rallying cry to save them.
Fiona Mathews is professor of environmental biology at the University of Sussex. She is the founding chair of Mammal Conservation Europe and author of the UK government’s official census of British mammals. She advises the UK government and its devolved authorities on a variety of conservation issues.
Tim Kendall is professor of English literature at the University of Exeter. He is the author of works of poetry and literary criticism, and he edited Britain’s Mammals 2018. He lives in the wilds of East Devon with Fiona, and they share their house with two teenage daughters, two rabbits, a Labrador and a rehabilitating common pipistrelle bat.
‘Spring has barely ticked over into summer, but I’ve already found the book that I’ll be recommending for the rest of the year.’
– BBC Countryfile Magazine
'If you care about Britain’s beautiful mammals – which of course you do – this hilarious book is a must-read. Weasely my favourite book of the year so far.'
– Dave Goulson, author of Silent Earth
'Engaging, humorous and full of fascinating facts you probably never knew, Black Ops and Beaver Bombing celebrates, mourns and champions the wonderful variety of British mammals.'
– Waterstones, Best Books of 2023
'You will laugh and learn in equal measure.’
– BBC Wildlife Magazine
‘Delightful… The authors’ sadness is clear, yet the text is more readable because they don’t take themselves too seriously, and scatter the text with memorable details.’
– Irish Times
‘Everything you could hope for in a book about our beleaguered native mammals. Elegiac, informative and funny; some truly magical encounters in the wild; an almost baffled indignation at our institutional and collective failures of policy and imagination; and best of all… some actual solutions.’
– Peter Fiennes, author of Oak and Ash and Thorn
'Packed full of useful information and acutely up to date… As she's one of the ablest mammalogists of our age, it's well worth listening to Fiona Mathews. I would heartily recommend this book to all.'
– Derek Gow, author of Bringing Back the Beaver
‘This book is, or should be, a big wake-up call to anyone who hasn’t already realised that Britain’s native mammals are in trouble… Black Ops and Beaver Bombing provides an entertaining and informative look at some of our native mammalian species as well as the wider issues associated with species conservation in Britain. It should be required reading for anyone with a passing interest in our native wild mammals as well as for those who would like to do more to help with conservation. I particularly hope that it will be read by the politicians and other people who are in a position to make positive changes to reverse the decline of our native mammals.'
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