An Indifference of Birds

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Richard Smyth

ISBN 978 1 910010 22 8
112pp, 234 x 142
paperback with flaps
£12.00


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Human history—from a bird’s eye view


History isn’t so much about the passage of time as the study of change—how did we get from then to now, from there to here?
To write the history of birds and people, you can look at how they’ve changed us, or you can look at how we’ve changed them.
This book seeks to do the second thing; this is a book about our place in their history.

“There are more novel perspectives in here than you’ll find in many books three times the length”—Mark Avery

“Fresh and compelling… has the mood-music soundtrack that blights so much nature writing turned to mute”—John Bevis

“An eye-opening look at human activity from the perspective of birds”—David Borthwick

“A formidable piece of work. Extremely well written, with a dazzling lexicon and a roadrunner pace that can turn on a sixpence”—Tim Dee

“A smart, clever book with a unique angle, supported by Smyth’s in-depth knowledge, and via his facility for Stuka divebombs of sentences.”
—Eamonn Griffin

“A marvelously unsettling book, reorienting us and opening new perspectives… carries us into the strange and humbling timescales and lives of birds, revealing our own history in a startling new light”—David George Haskell

“Never less than hugely informative… He writes with style, panache and an enviable knack of running the intensely academic and scientific up against the everyday… Exactly the sort of thing we need to start turning the tide”—Matt Merritt, ‘Bird Watching’

“Extraordinary”—Max Porter

“It’s not like anything else that I know of, not like how other people are writing about birds right now”—Stephen Rutt

“Brilliant. Fresh perspective, more understanding. And all the way through lively language and sharp, clear images. Made me look at how we look at birds (and by extension everything else around us) afresh”—Simon Spanton

“Brilliant… It takes the reader along very different paths from those trodden by other nature-oriented contemporaries. I whole-heartedly commend it, and the author, for the quality of his writing, the clarity of his thought, and his passion for those indifferent birds”
—Mark Wilson, British Trust for Ornithology



Richard Smyth is a writer and critic. His work appears regularly in the New Statesman, the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, and his books include A Sweet, Wild Note: What we hear when the birds sing (2017). He lives with his family in Shipley, West Yorkshire.