Peter Marren is friend of mine (although I haven’t clapped eyes on him for ages) and I have favourably reviewed several of his books here in the past (The Consolation of Nature, with Jeremy Mynott and Michael McCarthy, Chasing the Ghost, Where the Wild Thyme Blew, Rainbow Dust) and so it might not come as a surprise that I like this book too.

Whereas Peter’s books are usually educating me in a very affable way about flowers and insects this book tackles a subject about which I know a fair bit – extinction. Now extinction isn’t, on the face of it, the most uplifting of topics, it is, like death and illness, a fact of life. And like those difficult subjects, sometimes a light touch in discussion helps us get through the awkward bits more easily and helps us engage with the problems. That’s what Peter has done in this book. It’s not depressing but it doesn’t shy way from the issues either.

There are chapters about the global extinction crises of long ago, extinctions in the UK, what type of species go extinct, Extinction Rebellion, Lazarus species and much more. It’s a good overview with lots of facts, some great examples of species lost and found and wise words about nature conservation.

I read this book very quickly as the subject was of interest and the quality of the writing led me on through more and more pages very easily. It’s a good read, written by a thinking conservationist.

The cover? Not the best, I think. A couple of raptors and some squiggly birds (gulls?) in flight and a few trees and shrubs indicates – what exactly? I’d give it a mere 5/10.

After They’re Gone; extinctions past, present and future by Peter Marren is published by Hodder Studio.

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