The Running Hare by Wainwright Prize Winner John Lewis-Stempel

The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel
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The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel
ISBN: 9781784160746
Published by Transworld Publishers Limited on April 15th 2017
Genres: Ecology, Ecosystems & Habitats, Environmental Policy, Nature
Buy on Amazon US | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Buy on Amazon UK

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, although it left me feeling a strange mix of both hope and despair.

The Hare’s Hope

Hope, because it shows just how the countryside can be rejuvenated through careful, nature-friendly farming. In this case Lewis-Stempel simply plants a wheat field with wild flower seeds in the mix, and creates a border around the field of wild flowers.

The transformation is incredible: “The poppies, corn chamomile, cornflower and corn marigold light up the wheat.” With eloquent prose, he describes how his new meadow “buzzes with flies, crickets and grasshoppers, and hums with bees. There are field mice and voles, nameless and numberless flies, and bees galore.” And that’s before he has started talking about the finches, partridges, hawks, foxes, hares … All of this is compared to the “Chemical Brothers” fields next door: “There are no butterflies fluttering, no songbirds singing, only tomb-time stillness and silence.”

The Hare’s Despair

Despair, because it’s one field amongst millions, and though the author rants against the “silent, sterile, open-roofed factories for agribusiness,” he is fully aware that the “chemically addicted agri-capitalism” he describes has taken over much of western Europe’s fields and is unlikely to change, and that the decline of farmland flowers, insects and birds is likely to continue unless widespread change occurs and not piecemeal improvements here and there.

However, there is always the possibility that hope trumps despair. There is always room for optimism. For example, the author cites growing evidence that organic, eco-farming can lead to equal or higher production rates per acre/tree than chemical, industrial farming.

In this respect, this book is more than an enjoyable book to read; it is a highly important one.

Other books by Lewis-Stempel

I have reviewed other books by John Lewis-Stempel, all of which are very good. You might also be interested in my reviews of Meadowland, The Secret Life of Owls, and Where Poppies Blow.

Denzil TheBookOwl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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4 responses to “The Running Hare by Wainwright Prize Winner John Lewis-Stempel

  1. I haven’t read this book but the agri-farms and capitalism is not restricted to Europe only. The concept has been emulated by Asians and Africans looking at the way people have made money. I’m not sure where we all are headed but it doesn’t sound too good.

    • Denzil

      Thanks for your feedback Arv, it’s interesting to note that agro-industry isn’t confined to Europe or the States. While recognizing the need to get the most from the land to feed the world, it would be a tragedy if short-term aims left an ultimately depleted landscape.

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