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A Shadow Above : The Fall and Rise of the Raven
Bloomsbury Wildlife

A Shadow Above : The Fall and Rise of the Raven

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A Shadow Above
Author(s): Joe Shute

A Shadow Above chronicles the return of the raven and the people who have made that comeback possible.

For centuries, the raven Corvus Corax has stalked us in life and in death. Excavations of Bronze Age settlements in Britain have revealed raven bones mingled with human remains. The Viking and Norman warriors that stormed these shores did so sporting ravens on their shields and banners. By the 15th century the service the birds provided scavenging and picking clean bodies on the streets of British cities led to their protection, under the first-ever piece of nature conservation legislation.

Yet by the 1700s this relationship between humans and the raven had soured. The birds came to be regarded as vermin--representative of something deeper and more visceral--and were driven out of towns and cities with a hatred that moved into savagery. By the close of the 19th century, ravens clung on only in the furthest outposts of the United Kingdom--the southwest, west Wales, and the Scottish uplands--and this remained the case throughout most of the last century, but the past decade has witnessed a remarkable comeback. Raven numbers have increased by 134 percent since the turn of the millennium and there are now well over 12,000 breeding pairs across the country, with these moving ever closer to human settlements.

The history of this bird embodies our best and worst impulses, and symbolizes our deepest fears. Ravens became ingrained in our culture as omens of death, and we projected our own deepest fears on to them.

Joe Shute's book chronicles the return of the raven, and the people who have made that comeback possible. In it, he travels to every corner of the UK, meeting those who have spent the past ten years recording every sound and sighting, and showing why these birds reflect and provoke our innermost feelings.



Review(s):

“Early in the book, the author makes a confession: 'I came to birds late'. Joe Shute may have misspent his adolescence - youth without ornithology is, by definition, wasted - but he's made up for it. This hymn to Corvus corax is the work of a birdman” —Country Life

“Shute writes superbly and his book is both evocative and provocative” —Mail on Sunday

“Shute's enthusiasm, although lightly worn, is deeply infectious [...] he is never pretentious or aggrandising. At his best, he writes with a charming, immediate humanity” —Daily Telegraph

“He has brought the raven out of the shadow into the light” —Country Life

“Filled with glimpses of ravens in the wild, woven together with fascinating historical details, this book sheds light on the role the bird has played in the life of these islands. Ravens appear in many guises: harbingers of death, but also heralds of new beginnings; thieves and murderers, but also affectionate and loyal. Brilliant!” —The Week





ISBN:  9781472940292