Was Beethoven a Birdwatcher?

A Quirky Look at Birds in History and Culture

David Turner | 285 Pages | Black & White illustrations | Summersdale | Hardcover | 2011 | ISBN 9781849531450

The Publisher Says: Did the Cetti’s Warbler inspire the opening notes of the last movement of Beethoven’s Second Symphony? Who among a host of rivals wrote the best poem about the nightingale? Is a James Bond film named after a duck? Find out the answers to these ornithological conundrums and others in this engaging book that delves into literature, science, religion, fine art and popular culture to reveal how a bird can be far more than the sum of its feathered, winged and webbed parts. Worshiped as gods and damned as agents of the Devil in equal measure, birds have also fostered scientific breakthroughs and even helped provoke a war. This humorous and insightful guide is full of brilliant curios that even a magpie would envy.Whenever I see a movie described as ‘laugh out loud’ or ‘hilarious’ I know it is not for me as it might raise a wry smile every hour at best. The point of such publicity is to try and sell something that doesn’t sell itself. When I see writing described as ‘quirky’ I usually run a mile as it translate in my mind as the publisher is worried that the readers won’t ‘get it’! Well, I guess some people won’t take to David Turner’s style but I certainly do. I not only ‘get it’, I love it. Maybe he is less cynical than me but otherwise we clearly share a lot of opinions as well as a sense of humour.

This is what I call a ‘lucky bag’ book – consisting of lots of short essays there is something in there for everyone and for some every offering will be as satisfying as a sherbet dab or licourice bootlace. One or two have the status of a ‘frog clicker*’!

Not only did I instantly get my wife to dip into its covers but I resolved NOT to read it all at one sitting but to indulge in it from time to time. I find it hard to open a jumbo bag of Maltesers or M&Ms without eating the lot… Maggie manages to re-seal the bag and eat them over the course of several nights, this is definitely that sort of book – well worth dipping into little and often to savour every morsel.

To indulge one of the very cliché’s I hate most – Two thumbs up!

* For those of you who are not as long in the tooth as I, or from another shore, ‘lucky bags’ were on sale in sweet shops in the 1950s and 1960s. They were full of a mixture of sweets and tiny toys, the best of which was a small metal frog that, when pressed between index finger and thumb, made a loud click.


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