The Peregrine

The Peregrine

Book - 2005
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Baker & Taylor
A memoir of life in the wild on the trail of the peregrine falcon chronicles the habits and hunting techniques of the elusive predator while revealing the effects of human encroachment on their habitats. Original.

Book News
Baker never explains his journey from man to falcon, the necessity for it, the cause of it, or even his own fate as either falcon or man, but his transition in this startling work of nonfiction becomes very nearly complete as he defines falcon behavior and falcon ritual through the actions of his own body and mind to acquire what he calls "the hunting life." MacFarlane offers a very informative and evocative introduction, and helps the reader to understand how little we know about Baker, and how many ways his change from the "I" of the human to the "we" of the peregrine can be interpreted. Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell North Amer
From fall to spring, J.A. Baker set out to track the daily comings and goings of a pair of peregrine falcons across the flat fen lands of eastern England. He followed the birds obsessively, observing them in the air and on the ground, in pursuit of their prey, making a kill, eating, and at rest, activities he describes with an extraordinary fusion of precision and poetry. And as he continued his mysterious private quest, his sense of human self slowly dissolved, to be replaced with the alien and implacable consciousness of a hawk.

It is this extraordinary metamorphosis, magical and terrifying, that these beautifully written pages record.

Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, ©2005
ISBN: 9781590171332
1590171330
Branch Call Number: 598.96 B1741p 2005
Characteristics: xv, 191 pages ; 21 cm

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LPL_DanC May 11, 2017

One of the strangest books I've ever read. The author was a British librarian about whom very little is known, who became obsessed with wild peregrines in the UK during the 1950's and '60's, when the species seemed doomed (analogous to bald eagles in America) from agricultural pesticide use. The book chronicles the author's pursuit and observations of wild peregrines over the course of about a year, until his preoccupation becomes so intense he feels himself being transformed into a peregrine. The book contains some of the most beautiful writing I've read in a while, but it's a bit of a sipper: there is so much bird death (mostly by the talons of the insatiable peregrines) that more than a few pages at once can be a real downer. One reason I picked it up is because I heard it is a book that filmmaker Werner Herzog makes all his students read, or, to hear him tell it: "It has prose of the caliber that we have not seen since Joseph Conrad. And an ecstasy—a delirious sort of love for what he observes. The intensity and the ecstasy of observation is something that you have to have as a filmmaker or somebody who loves literature. Whoever really loves literature, whoever really loves movies, should read that book." (Source of quote: https://www.ttbook.org/book/werner-herzogs-required-reading-peregrine).

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