H is for Hawk
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H is for Hawk


New York Times 10 Best Books (2015)

Winner of the Costa Book Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize

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.

Title:H is for Hawk
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:300 pages

    H is for Hawk Reviews

  • Greg
    Oct 16, 2014

    H is for HawkThis is Mabel. She is a goshawk. I didn’t know what a goshawk was before I started to read this book. I wasn’t actually sure I knew what a hawk was either. “Seriously, Greg? You are...

  • Louise Miller
    Feb 09, 2015

    Didn't rate this at all. I have to be blunt here. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald is not my cup of tea in the slightest. To say it won the Costa Book of the Year and to be given widespread praise and...

  • Steve
    Oct 06, 2015

    A is for AscendantProse to sweep you awayB is for BirdsWith a passion for preyC is for CambridgeShe’s one of their scholarsD is for DineroNice royalty dollarsE is for ElegiacSo sad when her dad died...

  • Will Byrnes
    Jun 29, 2016

    The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten. Surprising things come to light: not simply memories, but states of mind, emotions, ...

  • Julie Christine
    Mar 23, 2015

    Here’s a word. Bereavement. Or Bereaved. Bereft. It’s from the Old English bereafian, meaning ‘to deprive of, take away, seize, rob’.Here’s another word: raptor, meaning ‘bird of prey’. ...

  • Diane
    Mar 01, 2015

    This is gorgeous nature writing and it is also a graceful memoir about bereavement. Helen Macdonald has managed to blend the two genres beautifully. When Helen's father died, her grief was so great th...

  • Marita
    Dec 13, 2016

    “The hawk was everything I wanted to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life.""I’ve made a hawk part of a human life, and a human life part of a hawk’...

  • Snotchocheez
    Nov 01, 2015

    I certainly would not want to dissuade anyone from reading H is for Hawk, Cambridge professor Helen Macdonald's moving memoir of coping with the loss of her photojournalist father. Her twin academic d...

  • Trish
    Mar 05, 2015

    "The archeology of grief is not ordered."Helen Macdonald’s book-length nonfiction is so many things at once: a eulogy, an elegy, a biography, a memoir, a training manual, a journey. It is a conversa...

  • Rebecca Foster
    May 19, 2014

    In an original blend of memoir, biography and nature writing, Macdonald reveals how raising Mabel the goshawk helped her heal after her father’s sudden death. Throughout, Macdonald compares her own ...

About Helen Macdonald

Helen Macdonald

Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, historian, illustrator and naturalist. She's worked as a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge, as a professional falconer, and in raptor research and conservation projects across Eurasia. She is an affiliate of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. She lives in Suffolk, UK.