Books : reviews

Oliver Rackham.
The History of the Countryside: the classic history of Britain's landscape, flora and fauna.
Phoenix Press. 1986

From its earliest origins to the present, Oliver Rackham describes the endlessly changing character of Britain’s countryside. Exploring the natural and man-made features of the land – fields, highways, hedgerow, fens, marshes, rivers, heaths, coasts, woods and wood-pastures – he shows conclusively and unforgettably how they have developed over the centuries. In doing so, he covers a wealth of related subjects to provide a fascinating account of the sometimes subtle and sometimes radical ways in which people, fauna, flora, climate, soils and other physical conditions have played their part in the shaping of the countryside. Based on extensive research, Oliver Rackham’s classic book is lively and immensely readable.

Oliver Rackham.
Collins. 2006

Trees are wildlife, just as deer or primroses are wildlife. Each species has its own agenda and its own interactions with human activities …

Written by one of Britain’s best-known naturalists, Woodlands offers a fascinating new insight into the trees of the British landscape that have filled us with awe and inspiration throughout the centuries.

Looking at such diverse evidence as the wods used in buildings and ships, and how woodland has been portrayed in paintings and photographs, Rackham traces British woodland through the ages, from the evolution of wildwood, through man’s effect on the landscape, modern forestry and its legacy, and recent conservation efforts. He explores woodlands and their history through names, surveys, mapping, legal documents and archaeology, offering a compelling insight into Britain’s woodlands and how they have become a national obsession.