Julian Hoffman is a personal friend, whose progress writing Irreplaceable I have followed from afar with interest. Even though I knew a little about its content, I have to say I was taken aback by just how uplifting and positive the finished book turned out to be. I had anticipated something far more gloomy.
Irreplaceable is a wonderful blend of nature writing and journalism, exploring individual battles to save local wild places.
Grand themes are often best illustrated by small, specific examples. There is an undeclared, faceless, global war being waged against the natural world. But, in this beautifully written book, Hoffman keeps things local and personal, describing how apparently powerless individuals are trying to protect their beloved local patches. The loss of a wood, allotment, or small population of lynxes might seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but they can be utter tragedies viewed at a local level.
Why did I find this book so uplifting? It wasn’t simply because, in some of Hoffman’s examples, the little guys win their particular skirmish (for the time being, at least). Far more heartening, however, were the many examples of people who care passionately about their local patches, and who are prepared to stand their ground in the face of apparently insurmountable odds. If local patches are worth anything, they ought to be worth fighting for. This book shows many people think they are.
Inspirational, and highly recommended.
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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