When There Were Birds by Roy and Lesley Adkins – what the critics are saying
“Truth and folklore about bird life, and man’s equal relationship with birds, are dissected in detail in this handsome new book by Roy and Lesley Adkins,” said Roland White. . Sunday Times.
While their beauty always amazes us, we also tend to see birds as harbingers of bad luck – and “subject them to terrible cruelty”. Until it was banned in the mid-19th century, cockfighting was Britain’s “most popular national sport”. Before that, other even worse games were played – such as “Throw at the rooster” (in which birds are “thrown to death”) and “Mutter a sparrow.” (involving biting on the head of a live sparrow).
The book makes clear how spectacular birds once were, says Christopher Hart in Daily mail. “In living memory, London has tens of thousands of sparrows and starlings” – while today there are only a few “wild pigeons”.
While this is sad, Adkins claims there are grounds for optimism: “awareness of the natural world is evolving rapidly,” they wrote. Collectively, this is “a wonderful piece of original social history”.
Little, Brown 496pp £25; The Week Bookshop £19.99
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https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/books/955481/when-there-were-birds-roy-lesley-adkins When There Were Birds by Roy and Lesley Adkins – what the critics are saying