Dr Mynott has an MA and a Ph.D from Cambridge University. He followed a publishing career with Cambridge University Press which included positions of Editorial Director, Managing Director and Chief Executive. Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge
BIRDSCAPES, Princeton University Press, 27 Mar 09
What draws us to the beauty of a peacock, the flight of an eagle, or the song of a nightingale? Why are birds so significant in our lives and our sense of the world? And what do our ways of thinking about and experiencing birds tell us about ourselves? BIRDSCAPES is a unique meditation on the variety of human responses of birds, from antiquity to today, and from casual observers to the globe-trotting 'twitchers' who sometimes risk life, limb and marriages simply to add new species to their 'life lists'.
Drawing extensively on literature, history, philosophy, and science, Jeremy Mynott puts his own experiences as a birdwatcher in a rich cultural context. His sources range from the familiar - Thoreau, Keats, Darwin, and Audubon - to the unexpected - Benjamin Franklin, Giacomo Puccini, Oscar Wilde, and Monty Python. Just as unusual are the extensive illustrations which explore our perceptions and representations of birds through images such as national emblems, women's hats, professional sports logos, and a Christmas biscuit tin, as well as classics of bird art. Each chapter takes up a new theme - from rarity, beauty, and sound to conservation, naming, and symbolism - and is set in a new place, as Mynott travels from his 'home patch' in Suffolk, England, to his 'away patch' in New York's City's Central Park, as well as to Russia, Australia, and Greece.
Conversational, playful, and witty, BIRDSCAPES gently leads us to reflect on large questions about our relation to birds and the natural world. It encourages birders to see their pursuits in a broader context - and it show nonbirders what they may be missing.
'Who watches the bird-watchers? This inventive disquisition is alert to both the dawn chorus of birds and the great choir of poets, travellers, and naturalists who have rhapsodized them. . . . For Mynott, much of the appeal of birds stems from the inexhaustible variety of our response to them: he celebrates the fact that, contra Keats, the nightingale's song might not have the same meanings for the modern birder as it has for Ruth among the alien corn.' New Yorker
'Mynott's eclectic approach belies a lucid framework of thought, as if distilled on a lifelong country ramble and now unveiled in a challenging and highly entertaining tutorial. . . . Jeremy Mynott's outstanding achievement with Birdscapes is to have decoded how birds rank among our closest kindred spirits.' Euan Dunn, Times Literary Supplement
'A rare philosophical exploration of our multifaceted experience with birds: why we are attracted to them, how we encounter and describe them, and their significance in our lives. . . . Birdscapes will appeal to readers who luxuriate in literature and who enjoy nature and especially birds.' Devorah Bennu, Science
'An absolutely fascinating book, exhaustively researched, beautifully written, both learned and humorous, and endlessly stimulating. . . . A book which informs and delights at first reading and will continue to be relished on subsequent re-readings.' Birding World
'Why do we expend so much effort to observe, catalog, describe, listen to and study birds? Citing a broad range of sources (Romantic poets, Japanese haiku masters, the Song of Solomon, Monty Python, Thoreau), Mynott ponders our perceptions of worth, our emotional responses to landscapes, and the process of vision itself. . . . Though Mynott provides ample references for further reading, this leisurely, thoughtful, generous book provides ample information and amusement.' Publishers Weekly, starred review