THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE tells the many-layered story of the British landscape. Oliver Rackham shows, with passion and humour, how to read our surroundings; the past - even the medieval past - lives around us. Adapted from his classic work THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE this illustrated edition combines Dr Rackham's wisdom and eloquence with the finest landscape photography, vividly exposing the splendour and secrets of our countryside. At the heart of the book are eight of the author's walks within areas of natural beauty; Dr Rackham proves an engaging and informative guide to some of Britain's best loved places, as well as offering practical advice on landscape detection techniques. With over 100 colour illustrations THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE contains a wealth of knowledge invaluable to our appreciation of our greatest asset - our natural heritage.
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher and industry reviews
'It would seem a mammoth task to trace the history of the British countryside, but one that the author achieves well. With more than 100 colour photographs, the book appears almost as a cross between a geography textbook and a glossy coffee-table book. Whatever it is, it's un-put-downable for anyone who has any interest in the countryside, giving a vivid overview of how and why our landscape is as it is today.' SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE (July 2003) 'Any walk, any drive, any bike ride, anywhere in the British countryside will take you past such a wealth of history that you'd never get anywhere if you stopped to explore and appreciate all that's there. When you do stop to take a look though, you'll need a guide to explain what it is you're looking at. Oliver Rackham's marvellous book is that guide... And even if you never leave your house, THE ILLUSTRATED... is so full of fascinating anecdotes about the way our landscape has been changed' LIVING HISTORY (September 2003) 'This is a wonderful account of the English countryside and man's influence upon it over the centuries. Profusely illustrated, it explains simply, for example, why fens were created, the effects of the introduction of the rabbit and the way to coppice woods.' FAMILY HISTORY MONTHLY (September 2003) 'This is a rural detective story, a book that looks at history, ecology and consrvation in the countryside and details the many-layered story of the British landscape...and recording human intervention and activity along with natural phenomena... Illustrated with more than 100 colour plates including maps and photoraphs, this is a handy guide-cum-reference book that is also a pleasure to read' HOME & COUNTRY (WI) (October 2003) 'Repackaged and beautifully illustrated, Rackham's classic guide to the shaping of our countryside reveals the fascinating - and often shady - past of the British landscape.' COUNTRYSIDE VOICE (Autumn 2003) 'How to read the landscape around you, and walk in it with knowledge and understanding. A fascinating exploration of Britain, to read with pleasure.' CHOICE (November 2003) 'Each [chapter] is a carefully documented record of developments from the earliest times to 2000, from the original wildwood to our present patchwork countryside ... idiosyncratic and stimulating book.' COUNTRYMAN (October 2003) 'Crammed full to capacity with information about the landscape and nature, and including some splendid walks in some fo the author's favourite areas, this is a book that will please any country lover.' THIS ENGLAND (Winter 2003) 'The erudition of the author across all aspects of how history, in the form of animals, climate and man have shaped the British countryside is exceptional. It is not just the weight of fact and insight that impresses but the way these are woven together in a readable and accessible form... it is impossible to delve into these pages without discovering some fascinating fact about the countryside. A worthwhile addition to any country library.' THE FIELD (December 2003)
UK Kirkus review
This book covers the history of the landscape of the British Isles from the last Ice Age up to the present day. It is an environmental history lesson, which explores what is revealed by features still surviving in the countryside and from old written and drawn records; a detective story of how, why and when various events happened to change the raw environment to the way it is today. Given the huge scope of its subject it is a tribute to the breadth and depth of the author's knowledge that it succeeds so well. Oliver Rackham divides the British Isles up by landscape and habitat type, from woodland to farmland, and for each he provides an historical summary explaining the origin of features such as hedgerows or highways, their development and modification, and their effect on the local area. There are a large number of high-quality photographs accompanying the text, many commissioned for the book, as well as copies of historic maps. The author has included eight specific walks over representative landscapes, each with an OS grid reference and map and an aerial photograph showing the route. Accompanying text and captions explain the significance of each walk's features. Oliver Rackham is a recognized authority on this subject and his own original research allows him to correct some widely held misbeliefs. He writing style is economical and he squeezes more facts into one sentence than seems possible. It is a pleasure to read a text where one feels in such a safe pair of hands. The subject matter is universally interesting and this book should appeal to a broad range of readers. (Kirkus UK)
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