The Running Hare

The Running Hare : The Secret Life of Farmland

4.24 (925 ratings by Goodreads)
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The Sunday Times Bestseller. Winner of the Thwaites Wainwright Prize 2015. BBC Radio 4's 'Book of the Week'

Traditional ploughland is disappearing. Seven cornfield flowers have become extinct in the last twenty years. Once abundant, the corn bunting and the lapwing are on the Red List. The corncrake is all but extinct in England. And the hare is running for its life.

Written in exquisite prose, The Running Hare tells the story of the wild animals and plants that live in and under our ploughland, from the labouring microbes to the patrolling kestrel above the corn, from the linnet pecking at seeds to the seven-spot ladybird that eats the aphids that eat the crop. It recalls an era before open-roofed factories and silent, empty fields, recording the ongoing destruction of the unique, fragile, glorious ploughland that exists just down the village lane.

But it is also the story of ploughland through the eyes of man who took on a field and husbanded it in a natural, traditional way, restoring its fertility and wildlife, bringing back the old farmland flowers and animals. John Lewis Stempel demonstrates that it is still possible to create a place where the hare can rest safe.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 29mm | 444g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0857523260
  • 9780857523266
  • 126,012

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The Running Hare is natural history close up and intimate.
It is the closely observed study of the plants and animals that live in and under plough land, from the labouring microbes to the patrolling kestrel above the corn; of field mice in nests woven to crop stems, and the hare now running for his life.
It is a history of the field, which is really the story of our landscape and of us, a people for whom the plough has informed every part of life: our language and religion, our holidays and our food.
And it is the story of a field, once moribund and now transformed.
John Lewis-Stempel writes with insight, wit and poetry. This is a rare and joyful book.
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Review Text

"He describes beautifully the changing of the seasons and the habits of animals such as the hares that make their home in his field. The book is a superb piece of nature writing."
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Review quote

"He describes beautifully the changing of the seasons and the habits of animals such as the hares that make their home in his field. The book is a superb piece of nature writing." -- Ian Critchley * Sunday Times * "That John Lewis-Stempel is one of the best nature writers of his generation is undisputed." * Country Life * "Englightening and stylish...Readers who enjoyed the author's last book, Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field, will find much in the same vein here: a mix of agricultural history, rural lore, topographical description and childhood memories. I learned a good deal.... Lewis-Stempel is a fine stylist, adroitly conjuring scenes in which "medieval mist hangs in the trees" or "frost clenches the ground"..." -- Sara Wheeler * Observer * "A beautifully written paean to the countryside in all its rich diversity." -- PD Smith * Guardian * "A beautifully observed book, full of poetic descriptions. Brilliant and galvanising." * Sunday Express * "Lewis-Stempel is a fourth-generation farmer gifted with an extraordinary ability to write prose that soars and sings, like a skylark over unspoiled fields. This wonderful book (a worthy follow-up to his brilliant Meadowland) is a hymn in praise of enlightened farming methods which reject lethal chemicals and allow insects, birds and flowers to thrive, as once they did.

As an experiment Lewis-Stempel rents an ordinary arable field (his own property is a hill farm) to plough and manage in the old-fashioned way, transforming it into a traditional wheatfield to attract wildlife. Even - he hopes - hares. The work is back-breaking but the rewards are sublime. Like the hares, Lewis-Stempel's words dance." * Bel Mooney, Daily Mail *
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About John Lewis-Stempel

John Lewis-Stempel is a writer and farmer. His many previous books include The Wild Life: A Year of Living on Wild Food, England: The Autobiography, Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War and Meadowland, which won the Thwaites Wainwright Prize in 2015. John writes for Country Life and won the BMSE Columnist of the Year Award in 2016. He lives on the borders of England and Wales with his wife and two children.
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Rating details

925 ratings
4.24 out of 5 stars
5 43% (394)
4 42% (388)
3 13% (121)
2 2% (16)
1 1% (6)
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