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Publisher Description

* Winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize
* Named the Costa Book of the Year
* #1 best-seller in the UK

When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer; Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood; she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life.

Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer's eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

Biographies & Memoirs
March 3
Grove Atlantic
Perseus Books, LLC

Customer Reviews

Yoga Kathy ,

"H is for Hawk"

Helen McDonald is clearly a gifted writer and lover of Goshawks and other creatures. Her incite and sharing of her grief after her Father's death are a view into the portal of Grief.
But even though her Father was a photographer of note, there are no photographs to go with her book! Why?
I was willing to purchase the hardback and was very disappointed to flip through and find only print. There are so many of us who will never fly a Goshawk or even know the pleasure and joy that having one may bring. Also, the various tools of Falconry would have made for interesting inclusion.

BrookhysersBabe ,


Part memoir, part how-to, part biography of another writer, Macdonald creates a vivid, riveting exploration of the long slog from grief to healing. Unsparing in detail about her despair over the passing of her father or the sight of her hawk eating a fresh kill, she manages to weave genres in one book, deftly working every thread toward a satisfying conclusion. She compares her life and her passion for hawking with the life and same passion of T.H. White, author of The Once and Future King, providing blunt, sympathetic insight into a tortured man. His blunders in hawking and sad, solitary nature mirror hers and also act as a foil for her eventual rebirth. Intelligent, literate and raw, both factual and deeply moving. I have not loved a book so much in years.

A. Quips ,

H is for Hawk

Boring. Extremely boring. The author seems to be in love with her own angst.

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