Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife Before It Is Too Late?
A radical examination of Britain's relationship with the land, by one of our greatest nature writers.
Environmental thought and politics have become parts of mainstream cultural life in Britain. The wish to protect wildlife is now a central goal for our society, but where did these ‘green’ ideas come from? And who created the cherished institutions, such as the National Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, that are now so embedded in public life with millions of members?
From the flatlands of Norfolk to the tundra-like expanse of the Flow Country in northern Scotland, acclaimed writer on nature Mark Cocker sets out on a personal quest through the British countryside to find the answers to these questions.
He explores in intimate detail six special places that embody the history of conservation or whose fortunes allow us to understand why our landscape looks as it does today. We meet key characters who shaped the story of the British countryside – Victorian visionaries like Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust, as well as brilliant naturalists such as Max Nicholson or Derek Ratcliffe, who helped build the very framework for all environmental effort.
This is a book that looks to the future as well as exploring the past. It asks searching questions like who owns the land and why? And who benefits from green policies? Above all it attempts to solve a puzzle: why do the British seem to love their countryside more than almost any other nation, yet they have come to live amid one of the most denatured landscapes on Earth? Radical, provocative and original, Our Place tackles some of the central issues of our time. Yet most important of all, it tries to map out how this overcrowded island of ours could be a place fit not just for human occupants but also for its billions of wild citizens.
“Essential reading for anybody who cares about the future.”
Henry Marsh, New Statesman **Books of the year**
“A seriously great book, important and urgent… As soon as I finished Our Place, I packaged up my copy and sent it off to Michael Gove… this is the kind of book that demands action.”
Alex Preston, Guardian
“Best known as one of our foremost nature writers, Mark Cocker spent several years researching this tour de force… stuffed with eye-opening statistics… by turns hopeful, melancholy and humorous… [Our Place] is heartfelt.”
Ben Hoare, BBC Wildlife **Book of the Month**
“Thunderingly necessary… Cocker on this kind of form – eloquent, practical, dogged and wise – is the sort of dynamic chivvying force [conservation] will always need… the book he’s written – however measured, equable and intelligent – is a call for revolution.”
Richard Smyth, New Statesman
“Impassioned, expert and always beautifully written… Our Place is a sobering and magnificent work.”
Christopher Hart, Sunday Times
“It is easy to be angry about environmental destruction; easy to demand change without hope but in this potent, elegant and influencing telling of the story of what we have done to England's wildlife, Mark Cocker archives something more: a reasoned tone in a radical cause. If you care about our country, read it.”
Julian Glover, Evening Standard **Books of the Year**
“What a relief it is to have this subject explored without the usual diatribes and righteous hysteria. Cocker’s quiet tone carries great authority and… [Our Place] deserves to command respect and wide attention.”
Tom Fort, Literary Review
“A fierce polemic by an eminent ornithologist about Britain’s denuded natural habitat.”
Sunday Times **Must Reads**
“Fascinating… Our Place is a brave book... It will undoubtedly ruffle what few figurative feathers we have left.”
Katharine Norbury, Caught by the River
“A new book by Mark Cocker is a major event, and [Our Place] is no exception… Cocker has always been brilliant at considering our relationship with nature… You can come away from it feeling that something can be done, that we can save Britain’s wildlife, if only there is the will to turn well-meaning generalities into action. The clock is ticking.”
Matt Merritt and John Miles, Bird Watching
“A superb new book by the naturalist Mark Cocker that is fast becoming highly influential… The environment secretary is telling friends he found it ‘powerfully persuasive’.”
Ian Birrell, iNews
“I kept thinking of the raw power of Mark Cocker’s astonishing Our Place, which was brilliant because it was so particular and familiar in the natural world it anatomised.”
Alex Preston, Observer
“An artful mix of lyrical writing and assured analysis that amounts to a quiet manifesto for action.”
Pilita Clark, Financial Times
“More urgent than any of Cocker’s previous writing… This resourceful and eloquent book could prove to be important.”
Richard Kerridge, Guardian
“This is the best book on the state of nature since George Monbiot’s Feral and deserves to be read just as widely… a very good read.”
“This book contains some exquisite writing about nature, but it is always powerfully and insistently ground in “its cause” … A radical polemic in the tradition of Hazlitt and Cobbett”
“This is a clarion call to the country’”
“A new book by Mark Cocker is a major event and his latest is a work of sweeping ambition”
UK Press Syndication
“Important… ambitious… [Cocker] is a superb writer”
Michael McCarthy, Resurgence & Ecologist
“A compelling history of nature conservation and why it matters, it is worth your time”
Land & Business
“Our Place… is a work of serious and sustained advocacy – passionate and committed… elements are fused in the writing, along with many apparent digressions and asides, in a way that gives the book a richly textured feel… the argument advances on several fronts simultaneously and in more than one dimension, in a complex literary ecology matching his subject.”
Jeremy Mynott, Times Literary Supplement
“Mark Cocker… writes with superb understanding”
Patrick Barkham, Guardian, **Books of the Year**
“A lyrical and intensely personal account… an excellent and important book… a wake-up call to us all.”
Rebecca Armstrong, Birdwatch, **Birders' Choice Awards 2018, Book of the Year**