The Moth Snowstorm
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The Moth Snowstorm : Nature and Joy

4.02 (363 ratings by Goodreads)
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A great, rhapsodic, urgent book full of joy, grief, rage and love . . . A must-read' Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

Nature has many gifts for us, but perhaps the greatest of them all is joy; the intense delight we can take in the natural world, in its beauty, in the wonder it can offer us, in the peace it can provide - feelings stemming ultimately from our own unbreakable links to nature, which mean that we cannot be fully human if we are separate from it.

In The Moth Snowstorm Michael McCarthy, one of Britain's leading writers on the environment, proposes this joy as a defence of a natural world which is ever more threatened, and which, he argues, is inadequately served by the two defences put forward hitherto: sustainable development and the recognition of ecosystem services.

Drawing on a wealth of memorable experiences from a lifetime of watching and thinking about wildlife and natural landscapes, The Moth Snowstorm not only presents a new way of looking at the world around us, but effortlessly blends with it a remarkable and moving memoir of childhood trauma from which love of the natural world emerged. It is a powerful, timely, and wholly original book which comes at a time when nature has never needed it more.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 144 x 200 x 17mm | 196g
  • John Murray Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1444792792
  • 9781444792799
  • 62,116

Review quote

McCarthy's words ring out as a rallying cry which is not only a delight to hear but one we should all seek to follow * Conversation * Compelling . . . The Moth Snowstorm is an inspiring book * New York Times Book Review * Offers a necessary corrective * Irish Times, Books of the Year * Elegiac * Guardian * This is a book about the joy the natural world can engender - even in the face of its decline. McCarthy synthesises the two main literary reposnses to the current crisis, provoking shock at the scale of Britain's recent loss of abundance and a sense of awe and (most importantly) love that may prove nature's best defence. If you read one book from this selection make it The Moth Snowstorm * The Times, Books of the Year * Unquestionably my nature book of the year - an intensely moving and intelligent plea for 'joy' to be counted the most powerful reason for valuing the natural world. McCarthy's starting point is the vivid recollection of a veritable snowstorm of moths in car headlights when he was young. With glorious originality, he makes an unanswerable case for us to start proclaiming 'a new kind of love' from the rooftops. Can you attach a cost-benefit analysis to what a walk in fields listening to birdsong can do for the human spirit? No. That's why everybody should read this angry, beautiful and passionate book * Daily Mail * [A] moving memoir * New Statesman * A bold new defence of a natural world under great threat * BBC Countryfile Magazine * I found joy following McCarthy's stories, particularly those of the futile attempts to return salmon to the Thames and the tragic loss of sparrows from London . . . His personal revelations are moving, and The Moth Snowstorm left me as grief-stricken as any environmental journalist must be after a career digesting facts such as that, by 2020, the volume of urban rubbish generated in China is expected to reach 400m tonnes - equivalent to the entire world's trash in 1997 * Guardian * A mixture of memoir, elegy to nature, and a call to arms . . . this is a profound urgent book, among its strength an appreciation of the small things - the common precious treasures of birdsong, butterflies and moths that we all, whatever our stance, stand to lose * Country Life * In his beautiful book . . . Michael McCarthy suggests that a capacity to love the natural world, rather than merely to exist within it, might be a uniquely human trait * Guardian * More than a simple paean to the glories of the wild world. It is also an impassioned protest against its destruction * Daily Mail * You could do worse to catch up than to read a single chapter in Michael McCarthy's new book, The Moth Snowstorm . . . the one entitled 'The Great Thinning' . . . powerfully and succinctly summarises the unfolding national story * New Statesman * As much as joy, it's a beautiful book about love, damage, and the possibility of redemption * Press Association * A deeply troubling book by one of Britain's foremost journalists on the politics of nature. The case he lays bare in the opening chapters is compelling stuff. Essentially he argues that the world of wild creatures, plants, trees and whole habitats - you name it - is going to Hell in a handcart . . . powerful, heartfelt and compelling * The Spectator * The natural world, whether birdsong, butterflies or wild flowers, can give us joy. It can bring us peace. The ability of nature to do this, through a sense of awe, is articulated beautifully in a book by Michael McCarthy, The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy. His quest to track down every British butterfly as a tribute to his dead mother brought me to tears * Sunday Times * Environmental correspondent Michael McCarthy makes an impassioned plea on behalf of the natural world in this inspiring book * Sunday Express * Deserves to be widely read * Scotsman * McCarthy has for years been the doyen of environmental correspondents . . . he is conversant with the hard facts, the political realities and the moral complexities of the conservation world. But he writes also as a man inspired by the beauty, diversity and abundance of the natural world that we are destroying. This combination of worldly wisdom and deeply felt personal experience makes this a highly original and refreshing account of our current predicament * TLS * A fascinating and very readable book . . . full of joy and wonder and luminous moments . . . McCarthy is a man who remembers not only the Observer's Book of Birds but the set of Brooke Bond tea cards featuring Charles Tunnicliffe's beautiful bird pictures. But you don't have to be of a similar vintage to enjoy this expansive celebration of a subject too often overlooked in the ongoing discourse about man and nature - sheer joy * Dabbler * Impassioned, polemical and personal . . . In the autobiographical passages nature is a marvel and a solace. [McCarthy's] descriptions of the night-time clouds of moths - the moth snowstorms of the title - that we saw in the days before farming ruined so much natural habitat are unforgettable, and his recollections of boyhood bird-watching on the River Dee Bay a delight . . . At its heart, this is a book aiming to persuade those who are broadly sympathetic to think in a different way, and in that it is surely a success - and a joy * Independent * An important book about an important subject - the loss of biodiversity locally, nationally and internationally, what this means for humanity and how it could possibly be avoided . . . The main argument is that we all have in us the capacity to experience joy and wonder from nature . . . Michael McCarthy is a professional journalist and an accomplished and experienced writer who handles his themes skilfully * Irish Examiner * A great, rhapsodic, urgent book full of joy, grief, rage and love. The Moth Snowstorm is at once a deeply affecting memoir and a heartbreaking account of ecological impoverishment. It fights against indifference, shines with the deep magic and beauty of the non-human lives around us, and shows how their loss lessens us all. A must-read * Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk *
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About Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy is one of Britain's leading writers on the environment. Formerly environment correspondent of The Times, for the last ten years he has been environment editor of the Independent. He has three times been named as Environment Reporter of The Year. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB, for an outstanding contribution to conservation. This was the only occasion in the 100-year history of the RSPB Medal that it has been awarded to a journalist.
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Rating details

363 ratings
4.02 out of 5 stars
5 35% (128)
4 39% (143)
3 19% (70)
2 5% (18)
1 1% (4)
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