By Mark Avery | Bloomsbury Publishing | Hardback | July 2015 | 304 Pages | ISBN: 9781472917416

The Publisher’s View: Driven grouse shooting, where flocks of Red Grouse are chased by lines of beaters so that they fly over lines of ‘guns’ that shoot the fast-flying birds, is a peculiarly British fieldsport. It is also peculiarly British in that it is deeply rooted in the British class system. This multi-million pound business dominates the hills of the north of England – the Pennines, the North Yorkshire Moors, the Cheviots – and throughout Scotland. Grouse shooting is big business. VERY big business. And backed by powerful, wealthy lobbying groups, its tendrils run throughout British society.

Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands makes the case for banning driven grouse shooting. The facts and arguments are presented fairly but the author, Mark Avery, states from the start why he has, after many years of soul-searching, come down in favour of an outright ban. There is too much illegal killing of wildlife, such as Buzzards, Golden Eagles, and, most egregiously of all, Hen Harriers; and, as a land use, it wrecks the ecology of the hills. However, grouse shooting is economically important, and it is a great British tradition. All of these, and other points of view, are given fair and detailed treatment and analysis – and the author talks to a range of people on different sides of the debate.

The book also sets out Avery’s campaign with Chris Packham to gain support for the proposal to ban grouse shooting, culminating in ‘Hen Harrier Day’, timed to coincide with the ‘Glorious’ 12th.

Ever-controversial, Mark Avery is guaranteed to stir up a debate about fieldsports, the countryside and big business in a book that all British conservationists will want to read.

The Author: For fifteen years, Dr Mark Avery was the Conservation Director of the RSPB. He is a well-known and highly respected blogger, public speaker and writer on UK nature conservation and environmental issues. A scientist by training, and a conservationist most of his life, Mark has written a hard-hitting, passionate but well-researched book about the conflict between driven grouse shooting and nature conservation and environmental sustainability. His previous book for Bloomsbury was A Message from Martha, the story of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.

Fatbirder View: The reason I have nothing to say about this book is because I am utterly and completely prejudiced in favour of the author’s position. It seems to me that the ‘sport’ preserves the rights of super privileged people backed by laws that are frankly elitist. That we give ‘rights’ to a handful of rich people over the interests of all wild things and allow those privileged few to get away with crimes against conservation makes my blood boil. Well done Mark for being fair in this exposition of the facts and for the cool-headed transcript of the argument that, surely, must eventually prevail.

One way or another my life has been dedicated to the fight against established privilege who exploit the riches and for the downtrodden who still, as the old song goes, ‘…get the blame’. We can never honestly call ourselves a democracy until this peculiarly English (yes I know a lot of it takes place in Scotland) feudal practice continues.

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