Five Great Non-Fiction Books To Give You An Insight Into The Fascinating World Of Reptiles

Reptiles are the unsung heroes of the natural world, in my humble opinion. They’re beautiful creatures that help regulate the world’s ecosystems, and many of them have truly unique superpowers, such as the ability to change colour, shed limbs to escape and regrow them later, and more.

However, when it comes to literature and reading, remarkably few authors, beyond the odd children’s writer, bother with tales about reptiles. When they do, it’s often keeping them as pets and how to care for them.

But there’s much more to reptiles than just the small selection that people commonly keep as pets, and in many cases the truth of their lives in the wild is stranger than any fiction ever will be.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of five awesome non-fiction books about reptiles so you can learn more about their incredible lives.

5. Snakemaster: Wildlife Adventures with the World’s Most Dangerous Reptiles: Austin Stevens is a world-renowned snake enthusiast who is to snakes what Steve Irwin was to crocodiles. He’s become a star thanks to his TV shows, and in his book he shares many exhilarating adventures and thrilling experiences working with dangerous snakes around the world. The book is very self-promotional and discusses the author’s life and work as much as it does the snakes that he works with, but it’s also insightful and many of the anecdotes are intriguing. The writer is clearly a snake expert and enthusiast who wants to share his knowledge on these fascinating creatures, as well as spend as much time as possible studying their behaviour and lives. If you love snakes and like a little thrill in your non-fiction reading, then this book has both. Many of the writer’s tales of working with some of the world’s most deadly snakes are breathtaking and scary in equal measure.

4.You’re Gonna’ Get Bit! Harrowing Tales of Herpetology: An impassioned tale of a love of reptiles, this is an engaging read that will make you want to step outside your comfort zone and start making all sorts of cold blooded friends. Author and reptile specialist Mark Ferdinand talks us through his love of everything from frogs to poisonous snakes and everything in between. His passion and love for nature comes through every page and makes the book a really amazing read. You won’t want to put the book down and will enjoy reading about everything from Ferdinand’s childhood getting his first reptilian pets to his job extracting and handling dangerous snakes. The book is both funny and enjoyable, making for an engaging combination of autobiography and information. You’ll learn, and laugh, a lot if you choose to read this intense book.

3. The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers: I’ve already mentioned this incredible book in my list of non-fiction books about animals to read if you loved Tiger King, but it’s definitely worth adding to this list as well. Writer Bryan Christy investigates the global illegal trade in reptiles, and how this lucrative and deeply dangerous market damages the habitats and lives of a wide range of reptiles. The book showcases the damage that the underground trade in reptiles has, and how it is powered by greed and an insatiable desire for exotic pets by avid collectors. The main focus of the book is one specific reptile dealer, who illegally imported thousands of animals into America from around the world and who the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were trying to snare for many years to come. Christy chronicles the investigation and the impact that illegal reptile smuggling has on the pet industry and the lives of individual animals.

2. Secrets of Snakes: The Science beyond the Myths: One of the many things that makes reptiles so intriguing is that their lives are often so unknown to us. While most mammals have been extensively studied and behave in ways that we can understand, snakes and other reptiles have their own unique ways of being. Most reptiles don’t experience emotions the way that we do, which means that we cannot relate to their behaviour as we do with most domestic and many wild animals. Taking a humorous and relatable approach, biologist David Steen unpacks some of the biggest myths and questions that many people have about snakes and offers ways that we can understand them. This fascinating book is approachable and understandable, making it great for anyone who wants to find out more about snakes but doesn’t want to keep them as a pet. Steen has experience observing snakes in the wild as well as in captivity, so he shows us a peek behind the curtain at these previously unknown creatures. He discusses a variety of different types of snake and breaks down the myths that have often hampered our relationship with these diverse and truly unique creatures.

1. Dreaming in Turtle: A Journey Through the Passion, Profit, and Peril of Our Most Coveted Prehistoric Creatures: If you want to learn more about one of the animals that is most exploited and damaged by humans, then I would heartily recommend this amazing book. It takes the reader on a tour around the world to see how humans are exploiting turtles, which the author compares to canaries in a coal mine, and how this exploitation affects the ocean that turtles call home. Journalist and reptile enthusiast Peter Laufer walks the reader through the enduring popularity and symbolism that turtles embody and how this is completely at odds with the cavalier way that people treat them and make their lives miserable and their homes uninhabitable. This book is gripping and deeply disturbing at the same time, and it’s a unique read for those who want to learn more about our impact on the environment and the lives of the creatures tat live in it with us. Often, for people, it’s hard for people to connect with a cause, even one as important conservation and caring for the environment, without an individual cause or case study. Laufer uses the hardships of the humble turtle to make a bigger point about humanity and our disregard for the flora and fauna that came before us and will probably outlive humans.

Five Magical Books About Marine Mammals

Continuing my series of pastoral top five lists of books about nature and animals, I’ve decided to put together a list of books about marine mammals.

I’ve always been a massive fan of dolphins, whales and orcas. These majestic creatures live in the sea, which is my favourite place.

Swimming in the sea gives me a sense of freedom I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I’ve been privileged enough to swim in some of the most gorgeous natural bodies of water in the world, from the Pacific Ocean to the Daintree river.

In the sea is where I’ve always felt the most at home. I can’t imagine how amazing the lives of marine mammals that live their permanently must be.

Ever since I saw dolphins leaping alongside our boat in Australia, I’ve known first-hand that these incredible animals are deeply intelligent and communicative.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed reading books about marine mammals and finding out some of the secrets behind their lives.

If you’re keen to find out more about marine mammals, whether it’s in the wild or the horror that is their lives in captivity, then this is the list for you. It’s exclusively non-fiction books, but many of them are so compelling that you’ll feel like you’re reading a story.

5. Orca: The Whale Called Killer: Erich Holt’s incredible book was first published in 1981, significantly before Blackfish made Orcas the centre of public and media attention. This book is a classic that is beloved by scientists, animal behaviourists and nature lovers alike. It gives an in-depth insight into the history of our understanding of Killer Whales, and how we’ve grown to understand them through arduous study. The book also points out that, despite all we do know about Killer Whales, we still know woefully little about them. Researchers have split their types into two: residents and transients. There’s even a school of thought that says that they could be completely different species. However, we still have much to learn, and Holt puts forward some compelling arguments regarding these phenomenal and beautiful animals. The author also did an amazing job of showing that, far from being bloodthirsty killers, Orcas are actually complex animals with their own unique societies. So, if you want to go back to where our knowledge of Orcas really began, then you should read Orca: The Whale Called Killer.

4. The Pinnipeds: Seals, Sea Lions, and Walruses: When most of us think about marine mammals, we think of Dolphins and Whales. But, there are plenty of other marine mammals, including sea otters and manatees. There’s also seals, sea lions and walruses, which are the subject of this incredible book. Author Marianne Riedman offers a unique insight into the lives and behaviours of these incredible and quirky creatures. The book is over 28 years old and was published in 1992, but it offers a great primer for anyone who’s interested in the history of our understanding of seal, sea lions and walruses. Riedman provides a great introduction to these beautiful creatures and helps readers to understand their lives and behaviour. It’s a very scientific book that is still accessible if you are interested in the classification of these animals, as well as information about their habits and communication styles.

3. Spying on Whales: The Past, Present and Future of the World’s Largest Animals: Whales often live very deep under the sea, and only rise to the surface briefly for air. As such, it’s understandable that we don’t know masses about many types of Whales and their everyday lives. Geologist and Academic Nick Pyenson explores the very latest in Whale research and what studies can show us about how these immense underwater creatures live. From research into fossils and Whale skeletons to field research on live Whales, Pyenson gives us an insight into how science is slowly unravelling the truth about these giants of the deep. His work spans many different countries and offers a valuable insight into what’s going on in the world of marine mammal research. The book originally came out in 2019, so it’s a few years old now, but it’s still pretty relevant and is a refreshing take on marine science. The author breaks down the science into language that’s easy for the layman to understand without being patronising or condescending, which is a real skill. As someone who’s read a lot of books about nature and animals, I can say that many behaviourists and scientists struggle to connect and communicate with their audiences, but Pyenson does it really well in this fascinating study of Whales.

2. Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins: Dolphins are one of the most world-renowned marine mammals, particularly bottle-nosed dolphins with their distinctive grins. Much of what we know of Dolphins comes from captive encounters, or wild watching of inquisitive pods of Dolphins who lark about near boats. In bestselling author Susan Casey’s epic book, we get a unique and intriguing glimpse into the lives of these sleek underwater animals. Casey explores how their lives and histories have become entwined with ours, and how their intellect and innovative communication abilities has helped Dolphins to flourish in almost every body of water in the world. There are even rare River Dolphins, and all of these different types have survived for thousands of years thanks to their collaborative natures and incredible cognitive abilities, which are much stronger than we give them credit for being. Dolphins might look cute with their seemingly permanent grins, but they can actually be very vicious if provoked and the species is carnivorous. If you always thought that Dolphins were just cute marine animals that smile and look pretty, then you really need to educate yourself by checking out this great book.

1. Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity: If you’re a fan of the Netflix documentary Blackfish, then this is the ideal read for you. Award-winning Journalist David Kirby tells the story of Marine Biologist Naomi Rose, and how she learned about Killer Whales in the wild, and the shocking difference between their natural lives and the time they spend in captivity in so-called humane establishments like SeaWorld. His book shows Rose’s fight against SeaWorld and how she and other campaigners worked to get these majestic animals released, even before the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, which is the main subject of the Netflix documentary. The book reads like a thriller and gives an unbelievable insight into the horrific world of animal exploitation.

Five Powerful Pastoral Books About Conservation

Conservation is a gripping and important topic, but it can be very inaccessible and confusing to those of us who aren’t already experts or scientists, or both.

I have a few friends who work in botany, conservation and birdwatching, and they all say the same sort of thing: most of the people in these industries struggle to make their work relatable.

Conservation really takes the brunt of this issue: after all, it’s something that everyone needs to know about. However, because most scientific papers and technical books are too difficult to understand, most ordinary people who aren’t scientists or conservation specialists simply don’t read them or even acknowledge their existence.

Thankfully, many amazing writers have written about this topic and tried to make it understandable for those of us who don’t know the Latin names of every plant on the planet.

If you’re trying to learn about conservation and understand how we can help the environment, then here are 5 books about the topic that I love. All of the books are non-fiction, because while novels are a handy way to explain complex topics, it’s also possible to make important issues like conservation and environmentalism accessible without fictionalising them.

5. American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains: Naturalist and outdoor lover Dan Flores shares his love of America’s Great Plains with readers in this fascinating book. It explores the history of these desert regions that were once home to a diverse range of species, ranging from grey wolves and bears through to majestic wild horses and antelope. Flores takes each of these animals and gives an amazing portrayal of its natural life in this wild place and how, over the years, the animals have interacted with ranchers, industrials and other aspects of human life in modern America. Through this discussion he explores the ways in which humans have destroyed native habitats and had a significant negative impact on the lives of many of these incredible animals, and what we can do to help improve diversity and conserve native species that are struggling to survive on the Great Plains.


4. Erosion: Essays of Undoing: From respected author, conservationist and activist Terry Tempest Williams, comes Erosion: Essays Of Undoing. This book of essays on a range of topics offers a unique insight into how humanity has irrevocably damaged nature and the various types of erosion that people can perpetrate. Whether it’s damaging sacred Native American lands to undermining American laws that are designed to protect endangered animals, there are a lot of ways in which people, corporations and capitalists are hurting the environment to this very day. She explores historical cases and gives a fascinating insight into how the many misdemeanours of companies and governments have devastated America’s once green and pleasant lands. Each essay is a masterpiece that deserves to be read at least once, if not several times so that you can understand Williams’ many meanings.

3. Oceana: Our Planet’s Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them: Written by Ted Dawson (yes, the actor from The Good Place) and journalist Mike D’Orso, this incredible book discusses an area of conservation that’s often overlooked: the world’s oceans. Our oceans are plundered for fish and often act as watery landfill sites for the world’s rubbish and waste. In this book, Dawson and D’Orso tackle this tough topic conversationally, and make realistic predictions and offer insightful ideas to help ordinary people understand the harm that could come to the world’s oceans if we don’t act, and soon. Many other activists, marine science experts and environmental lawyers are featured in the book and, through the use of visual aids such as charts, graphs, graphics and images, the writers make a powerful statement about what we need to do collectively and individually to help save the oceans before it’s too late.

2. Rainforest: Dispatches from Earth’s Most Vital Frontlines: Rainforests are the world’s most important lifeline, and yet they’re destroyed on a daily basis at a phenomenal and deeply worrying pace. Tony Juniper shares his first hand experiences of some of the world’s biggest forests and explains how these landscapes are changing and why it’s a bad thing, not just for rainforest enthusiasts and nature lovers, but for every inhabitant of the planet. After all, rainforests are home to more than half of the world’s species of plants, insects and animals, and they are the breathing lungs and beating heart of the natural world, but our practices, including logging and commercial farming, are killing them and rendering these wild paradises beyond repair. Juniper gives an impassioned account of what’s going on in this unforgettable book.

1 Wilding: Isabelle Tree’s incredible book about her work returning native wildlife, trees and plants to her husband’s family estate, Knepp in West Sussex. Originally run as a commercial farm, the estate wasn’t making a profit and was simply being cruel to animals and damaging the environment. Isabella and her husband were inspired by a Dutch re-wilding experiment. The book details their long struggle to get grants, approval and permission to welcome a range of native animals onto their land, and let them graze on plants that have grown in British soil for thousands of years. The author details the incredible struggle she and her family went through to get nature to return to this beautiful land and get it to live in harmony with people in this modern world. The book is very specific to the Knepp estate, but it is informative and makes for a great read.

Five Inspirational Non-Fiction Books About Horses

After my recent post about the five pastoral books about birds of prey that I love reading, I thought I’d introduce my readers to five incredible books about horses.

Throughout the 2020 lockdown, I bought a lot of books about horses and their behaviour, because I adore these stunning animals. When I was younger, and I lived in Dorset, I spent a lot of time watching horses in the fields, and I also took some horse riding lessons.

Now seems like a great time to talk about books regarding horses. As a new movie showcases the remarkable story of a horse born and raised on a Welsh allotment that goes on to become a world-renowned racehorse, I felt now was the time to share some of my favourite non-fiction books about these majestic creatures.

I’ve always loved horses, even though I’ve spent very little time in their company. I think it’s the way they’re portrayed and the fact that they have such a prominent place in literature.

Also, they’re incredibly beautiful animals, with complex personalities and amazing intellect.

If you’ve never really read a lot of pastoral, non-fiction books about horses, then here’s a list to get you started.

5. In Harmony With Your Horse: How to Build a Lasting Relationship: If you either own a horse or spend a lot of time with one, then you might want to consider reading this book to find out more about their behaviour and mind-set. Experienced horse rider and enthusiast Clare Albinson has founded a riding club and spent many years honing her skills at riding horses. In this book, she discusses how to strengthen your bond with your horse and understand their behaviour. Even if you don’t have a horse, it’s still worth a read. Albinson makes animal behaviour accessible and understandable, so it’s a great book to check out if you’re looking to understand animals and their motivations.

4. Chosen by a Horse: This unique memoir by Susan Richards reminds me of Helen Macdonald’s H Is For Hawk, in that they’re both stories about how animals changed the lives of broken and damaged women. In Chosen By A Horse, Richards shares the story of how, when she arrived to adopt a horse from an emaciated herd found by an animal shelter. While trying to catch another horse and take it, an emaciated mare and her foal get into her trailer, leaving Richards to take them instead of the horse she’d intended to adopt. The mare, named Lay Me Down, helps Richards to face her feelings and changes her life for the better, all while teaching her a lot about the relationship between people and horses. 

3. Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America’s Premier Racing Dynasty: If you’re searching for a book that’s part thriller, part non-fiction insight into working horses, and all true, then this could be the perfect read for you. Ann Hagedorn Auerbach takes an in-depth look into the rise and calamitous fall of one of America’s premier Thoroughbred racehorse breeders, Calumet Farm. For generations the farm bred and trained superstar racehorses that won some of the sport’s most prestigious awards and races. However, behind the scenes, financial skulduggery and dodgy dealings became the stable’s downfall and ultimately led to its destruction. The story’s almost too fantastic to be true, but if you’re a fan of horse racing then this is a great book that you should definitely check out.

2. Bill the Bastard: The Story of Australia’s Greatest War Horse: Frankly, I only really took any notice of this book because it has a swear word in the title, and that’s refreshing. I’m bloody glad I did pick it up and give it a read, because it’s an intriguing and unique portrait of an intriguing and unique horse. The book tells the story of Major Michael Shanahan, the only man who could ride a huge war horse sent from Australia to the Middle East to help fight in the light horse force. A combination of historical fact and fictionalised portrayal of how a huge, impressive but aloof horse was tamed and became a legend. By sharing the details of both the way that horses get treated during war and the relationship they have with their riders, this book is a great read for anyone who wants to learn and enjoy an unforgettable story about how man and horse can come together to do good.

1. The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion: Wendy William’s unique book combines her personal experiences caring for these beautiful animals and her extensive studies on their history. By travelling the world and interviewing a range of archaeologists and horse experts, Williams is able to present a complete overview of how horses came to partner with humans and why they’re still such a feature of our lives, even today, after technology has reduced our need to ride horses for transport. For anyone who wants a complete overview of the history of horses, from their initial descendants to their modern roles in sport and as working pets, this is an unforgettable read that you’ll struggle to put down.

Five Books About Unsolved Mysteries To Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat

True crimes are an exciting trend in non-fiction books, as the world looks for something to entertain and keep itself busy.

You only have to check out your Netflix list to see the world’s fascination with true crime.

Documentaries on the subject are more popular than ever before during the pandemic, as we’re all keen to keep ourselves busy.

While solved crimes will always be fascinating, unsolved mysteries are even more so.

There’s the suspense and the mystery, which makes them all the more intriguing. Think about how well the legend of Jack The Ripper has endured in popular fiction and the media.

If the killer had been caught, then he might not have been as interesting to writers, artists and social commentators.

I’ve already gone over the best true crime books and serial killer books for documentary fans, so now I thought I’d showcase 5 awesome books about true cases of unsolved mysteries.

After all, unsolved mysteries are a unique part of our lives. While you’re never likely to solve the crime by reading a book, it’s interesting to check out all the facts and see them from different perspectives.

If you’re looking for a book about unsolved crimes, then keep reading and maybe you’ll find a new favourite!

5. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery: Investigative journalist Robert Kolker delves into the lives of five women who worked as escorts and advertised their services on the website Craigslist. Over the span of several years, young women who sold their time and services on the site were lured to their death on Long Island. Kolker worked with the families of the young women who were presumed to be the victims of a serial killer and explores how their lives were shaped by poverty. There could have been many other victims, and not all might be the victims of the same killer, but this story is more about the women and what led them into the work that put them in the path of a killer. The author works to produce a very human portrayal, not of the unknown killer, but of the women whose lives they took.

4. Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident: It’s a chilling tale that could easily be the plot of a film. A group of experienced hikers is taking on a trail in the northern Ural Mountains during the 1950s. They’re bodies are discovered, but it’s clear that something strange has happened. The bodies exhibit signs of violence, they’ve clearly run out of their tents unprepared and there are mysterious photos and other weird information that doesn’t add up. In 2019 the Russian authorities launched an investigation, and branded the incident the work of an avalanche, but many remain unconvinced. In 2013, Donnie Eichar put together this compelling overview of the trip and the incidents leading up to the tragic deaths of the group. He goes into detail about what happened and offers intriguing theories. He presents the tale well, so that the reader is propelled through the story all the way through to the mysterious, and still completely unresolved, ending.

3. The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft: I’d never even heard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the art heist that rocked Boston until I saw a recent Netflix documentary on the subject. The show wasn’t very well structured and it offered its information haphazardly and out of logical order. However, the one benefit of the documentary was that it did interest me in this strange case. So, in my quest for more information on the subject, I went in search of a book about the case, which was never solved. Journalist Ulrich Boser delves into the case in this insightful book, basing it on the case files of a detective who specialises in art thefts, Harold Smith. He’d dedicated a many years to the case, and after his death Boser took his notes and turned them into a comprehensive overview of the case, all of the evidence in it and potential scenarios that could have occurred when this selection of valuable art was spirited away. The report explores Smith’s leads and a range of ideas, ranging from run of the mill theories to downright crazy suppositions involving tenuous links to big time gangers like James Whitey Bulger. The book also offers an informative insight into the formation of this unique and illustrious museum, which was founded by a wealthy heiress who wanted to make it a hub for art lovers. If you’re interested in learning more about the case, which remains one of the biggest unsolved art thefts in the world to this very day, then this book is a comprehensive and compelling choice.

2. Blood And Money: This insightful book covers the unique case of Joan Robinson Hill, a successful horse rider living in Houston, Texas. She was also the daughter of a ruthless oil tycoon and the wife of an ambitious plastic surgeon. Joan died in suspicious circumstances, and her husband quickly married his mistress shortly after her death. Joan’s father believed that she was killed by her husband, who had been eager to leave her for some time before her death, but he was indebted to her father and being blackmailed by him to stay with his daughter and avoid a scandal. After her death, Joan’s father pursued her husband for murder through medical negligence, as he didn’t take her to hospital for several days after she became sick, and when he was eventually pressured into taking her to one he took her to a small hospital without an emergency room, rather than a larger hospital. It was never proved that John Hill killed his wife, although many people have alleged it. After an initial mistrial, thanks to the sensational claims of his second estranged second wife, John Hill was murdered himself. While his killers were caught and found to have links to his former father in law, he was never charged with organising the hit. The fascinating case is as scandalous and complex as it sounds, with so many twists and complications that it’s almost impossible to keep up. Thankfully, Blood And Money lays out the case in a logical manner, giving the reader access to the facts. Thomas Thompson covers this sensational case clearly and creates a compelling narrative that helps to untangle this confusing tale.

1. Zodiac: Many people have seen the film Zodiac starring Robert Downey Junior, but some people don’t realise that it was actually based on real life events. The zodiac killings shocked America to its core, and the fact that the killer was never identified is unprecedented and incredible. Robert Graysmith’s 1986 book on the subject is acknowledged by many to be a definitive account of what occurred during the killing spree, which occurred in the 1960s and 70s and was highly publicised. It’s also the book on which the movie was based. The book goes into far more detail than the movie does, and discusses every aspect of the case, explores the lives and deaths of the 6 known victims, as well as the killer’s claims and potential motives. It’s a compelling account that’s definitely a must-read for thriller loves and anyone who’s interested in mysteries that may never be solved. 

5 Non-Fiction Books About Animals You’ll Enjoy If You Loved Tiger King

the lizard king

If, like me, you’ve been desperately trying to keep yourself sane during the lockdown, then you’ve probably been searching for new books to read and shows to binge watch.

One show you can’t have failed to notice is Tiger King, the documentary that quickly turned into a cult, non-fiction soap opera. It was meant to be a big cat version of Blackfish, the documentary about captive killer whales in SeaWorld and how their poor treatment at the amusement parks has led to psychological problems that caused them to attack and, in some cases, kill, the trainers who get in the water with them.

However, Tiger King is more about the individuals involved in America’s booming captive big cat trade than it is about the animals themselves. It tells the story of a mad roadside zookeeper, who twice tried to hire a hit man to kill a rival, who is also a former big cat breeder who now runs a slightly sketchy ‘sanctuary’.

In the course of exposing this crime, the filmmakers also touch on the disappearance of the target’s former husband and other big players in America’s booming big cat and exotic pet trades, including a serial bigamist and the new owner of the zoo, who loves to parade his cats around Vegas and use them as status symbols to attracts impressionable young women and punters at some of the strip’s famous casinos.

The show spawned a host of memes and mad theories, but it didn’t really tell you a lot about big cats. If you love animals, and are keen to enjoy a thrilling tale that taught you about them, then here are 5 non-fiction books about animals that will keep your mind active during the lockdown. They combine the absurdity of the individuals in these markets with factual information about the animals they own, giving you the chance to learn in a way you simply couldn’t when watching Tiger King.

5. H Is For Hawk: Equal parts memoir and discussion of hawk husbandry, in H Is For Hawk Helen Macdonald tells the story of her quest to tame Goshawk Mabel following the death of her father. A celebrated historian and experienced bird trainer, Macdonald walks readers through the history of training birds of prey for hunting as she dissects her own personal struggle to tame the hawk and her own conflicting feelings.

4. Taking Shergar: Exploring one of the racing world’s most baffling criminal cases, Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing’s Most Famous Cold Case reads like a thriller, combing common knowledge about this renowned crime with insider secrets about the close-knit horse racing world. Writer Milton C. Toby takes readers through the entire case in extraordinary detail, going through all of the suspects and the incredible reasons why the crime was never solved and the remains never found.

3. The Lizard King: With a name so similar to Tiger King, this is a great choice for avid fans of the series who really wanted to find out not only about the people involved in the inhumane practice of keeping animals, but the affects that captivity can have on the creatures in their ‘care’. In this case, the subject under discussion is not big cats, but reptiles. In The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers Bryan Christy shows readers the sordid criminal underbelly behind the exotic reptile trade in America, and how a federal agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set out on an obsessive quest to take down some of this shady market’s biggest players. As gripping as it is informative, the book is almost as strange as Tiger King, only with smaller, but no less dangerous and majestic, animals.

2. Cuddle Me, Kill Me: Written by experienced animal rights campaigner Richard Peirce Cuddle Me, Kill Me: From Bottle To Bullet – A True Account of South Africa’s Captive Lion Industry exposes the inhumane treatment of the lion cubs that are bred to be cuddled, and then brutally disposed of when they get too big to pose alongside. Often they end up being used for ‘canned hunting’, a barbaric practice where the cats are sold to hunters so they can shoot them in a controlled environment and then mount the carcases as trophies. Peirce pulls no punches as he shares the facts about these horrific practices and how, behind the veneer of animal care, the centres that breed these cubs are focused purely on profit, with no regards the cats in their care.

death at seaworld

1. Death At SeaWorld: Following on from the success of the documentary Blackfish, Death At SeaWorld: Shamu And The Dark Side Of Killer Whales In Captivity walks readers through the horrific world of killer whale capture and the industry regulated practices that resulted in at least 4 deaths and many more serious injuries to trainers. Writer David Kirby uses court records, eyewitness testimony and interviews with former trainers to create a book that reads like a thriller. He compassionately explains the difference between wild killer whale habits and behaviours and the artificial lives they are forced to lead in amusement parks, and how this has led to psychological and physical issues for the whales and those who care for them.

5 Great Books To Read If You Want To Learn More About Donald Trump

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As the world girds its loins in anticipation of a potential third World War thanks to the American President’s recent act of terrorism against Iran, which saw him order commander Qassem Soleimani to be killed, you might want to learn more about the man responsible.

Whilst checking out his Twitter account might be an idea, he’s renowned for exaggerating, bending the truth and, quite frankly, outright lying.

So, how can you find out more about the man behind the madness? Reading books by those who’ve studied him and the way he behaves, both as a business leader and a President is probably the best way. As such, here are five of the best books out there on the Donald.

5. A Warning: Written by an anonymous person who claims to be a ‘senior Trump administration official’, this expose is filled with shocking insights into the way the 45th President runs his version of the White House. Expanding on an article published in the New York Times previously, the book goes into detail on the way that America is being led, and it’s pretty scathing. An eye opening read for those who want to find out more about what goes on inside the Trump administration (spoiler alert: not a lot, and not very quickly).

4. A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership: The memoir of former FBI director James Comey, this book shares a lot of Comey’s personal experienced working alongside the Trump administration. Appointed by Barack Obama, the revered Lawyer was sacked by Trump for failing to do his bidding and back down on his quest to find and showcase the truth about Russia’s interference in the election that had won the President his seat. As such, his book gives an honest and open account of the Presidents that Comey has served under, in his varied roles, and paints a portrait of Trump as the most shambolic and corrupt of the lot of them.

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3. It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America: You might already have realised by now that Trump’s policies, such as his family separation, concentration camps on the Mexican border and his revoking of many funding options for lower-income American families, will have a lasting impact on the country and the world. However, you might not understand the full extent of what Trump and his handpicked cronies are doing. If you want to find out more, then David Cay Johnston’s book is the perfect read for you. It shines a light on exactly what’s going on and the lasting legacy of hurt that Trump’s policies and actions will have on the American legal, justice, political and economic systems. From the climate to his border wall and everything in between, the book is a no-holds-barred showcase of all the damage that Trump’s White House is causing.

2. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House: An explosive book when it first came out in 2018, Michael Wolff’s expose on the Trump administration remains relevant and important reading to this very day. As a journalist, Wolff was given unprecedented access to lawmakers, governors and others within Trump’s inner circle, and he details all the revelations they offered to him in horrifying detail. From the President’s disinterest in his work, through to his nepotism and bullying leadership tactics, it’s all laid out so you can see the stark reality of what is happening to America if you read this gripping book.

1. Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump: Revered Sports Writer Rick Reilly explores how the way that Trump plays, and lies about playing, golf, shows a lot about who he is, both as a man and a leader. Interviewing some of the best golfers, course managers, tournament organisers, fans and caddies in the industry, Reilly paints a picture of a chaotic man who tries to control the narrative even when simply playing golf. Trump’s intriguing relationship with the game is shown in harrowing detail, and the book highlights just how deceitful, dishonest and disconnected the President really is.

Donald Trump Junior: A Great Example Of How Not To Promote A Book

triggered

The worst leader in the history of the world’s son has recently released a book, which has quickly proved to be a master class in bad book PR.

Seriously, if a book PR company was going to release a guide on how not to promote your book, they’d fill it with stuff exactly like what Donald Trump Junior is doing right now.

The book, named Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us, discuss Trump’s fanciful notion that the left hates everyone and is filled with hateful bigotry, including an entire chapter dedicated to transphobia.

Coming out of a renowned fascist whose father is currently running concentration camps at his country’s border and separates migrant children from their parents, saying that the left is full of hate is, in my opinion, a bit much, for there you go.

Throughout the campaign to promote the book, Trump Junior has been behaving, frankly, bizarrely. His book recently got to the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list for non-fiction, but the listing has a dagger next to it, indicating that it includes bulk purchases.

Prior to this, Trump Junior and his girlfriend walked out of a campus appearance at the University of California after being heckled by far right supporters who were fans of theirs.

Whilst the pair were afraid of liberals heckling them and telling them that their hate filled diatribe should stop, it was actually people who’d turned up to support them that shouted at them and caused them to leave, after the couple declined to host a question and answer session.

Despite Trump Junior stating that he loves answering questions, he decided that he didn’t want to, and this led to repeated chants that eventually drove him and his girlfriend to rant at the audience before departing.

Such pathetic and hypocritical behaviour is what he is accusing the left of in his book, so it’s more than a little surprising and really bed press for his book, which clearly isn’t making the splash in the literary market that Trump Junior might have hoped.

At the end of the day, it’s little surprise that Donald Trump Junior, named after the world’s biggest baby crossed with a Cheeto, is a pathetic man-child whose book is a load of fascist crap, but I am surprised that he hasn’t got a better PR team to at least make it look like he’s trying to promote this book properly.

A Straightforward Guide to Being A Detective Review: A Really Great Idea Let Down By Poor Writing

striaghtforward guide

There’s definitely space on the market for a truly comprehensive guide to creating factually correct and historically accurate crime fiction.

As such, when I found out that Historian Stephen Wade and former Policeman Stuart Gibbon, whom I’ve already had the pleasure of interviewing, were collaborating to create such a guide I was excited.

The idea they have is perfect: create a guide that combines Gibbon’s policing expertise with Wade’s historical knowledge to create a comprehensive resource for fans of crime fiction or writers of the genre.

Whilst the idea is great, the execution lets the book down. For one thing, there’s no means to tell which expert is speaking at what point. Whilst it is easy enough to guess at some points, there’s no definitive indicator, and this isn’t great for those using this as a proper reference book.

Structurally the book is haphazardly, with each section laid out alphabetically with sub categories that are confusing and long-winded. With sub headings within sub headings it’s easy to get lost and hard to easily find the information you’re looking for.

There are also random pieces of, frankly, useless information in the book, such as a poem about early mornings. Whilst this may be interesting, it is not something a reader would ever be able to use in their research, and as a result is simply padding that makes this book feel like an essay that’s being bulked up as its a bit shy on the word count.

However, the biggest issue that I have with A Straightforward Guide to Being A Detective is the poor writing. The grammar and punctuation are not up to standard, and as such this would not be useable as a reference. Whilst it could make for a great guide for those seeking anecdotal advice, its complete lack of proofreading makes this useless if used as a source, and as such could not be used by anyone in an academic or corporate sense.

So, in short this is a really cool idea, and if the authors were to properly execute it then it could be something great. As it is, you can find some really great information in this book, but if you want something quick and easy to find then just Google it. If the authors were to consider a second edition, this one properly proof read and structured to a better standard, then it could potentially be a great academic and authorial resource for those exploring crime fiction as a genre.