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One Midsummer's Day

Swifts and the Story of Life on Earth

Mark Cocker author


Publisher:Vintage Publishing

Published:1st Jun '23

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This hardback is available in another edition too:

One Midsummer's Day cover

It takes a whole universe to make one small black bird

The bestselling author of Crow Country and writer of the Guardian's Country Diary tells the story of all life on Earth through a single day spent in the company of swifts

'A jewel of a book'


'One of our greatest living naturalists'

Swifts are among the most extraordinary of all birds. Their migrations span continents and their twelve-week stopover, when they pause to breed in European rooftops, is the very definition of summer. They may nest in our homes but much about their lives passes over our heads. No birds are more wreathed in mystery. Captivated, Mark Cocker sets out to capture their essence.

Over the course of one day in midsummer he devotes himself to his beloved black birds as they spiral overhead. Yet this is also a book about so much more. Swifts are a prism through which Cocker explores the profound interconnections of the whole biosphere.

From the deep-sea thermal vents where life was born to the 15 million degrees at the core of our Sun, he shows that life is a singular and glorious continuum. These birds without borders are a perfect symbol to express the unity of the living planet. But they also illuminate how no creature, least of all ourselves, can be said to be alive in isolation. We are all inextricably connected.

Drawing deeply on science, history, literature and a lifetime of close observation, One Midsummer's Day is a dazzling and wide-ranging celebration of all life on Earth by one of our greatest nature writers.

Lyrical and startling by turn, he reveals the extraordinary in the apparently ordinary... A jewel of a book -- Caroline Lucas MP
Not just a glorious celebration of swifts but of their place amid the panoply of life on Earth... Cocker is one of our greatest living naturalists... He brings to this vast subject a scientist's rigour and a poet's expansive vision -- Philip Marsden * Spectator *
A beautiful, brilliant, mind-stretching and soul-flying book. Genius -- Horatio Clare, author of A Single Swallow
His grandest effort yet. Told as a series of reflections that fly through his mind in the course of a single day watching swifts from his garden in Norfolk, he ranges across topics as widely as a swift ranges across the sky... Magnificent * Financial Times *
A rich and elegant exploration that takes us to unexpected places. With the swift as our lift, we leave the garden on an extraordinary tour that takes in the moon, amongst many other wonderful destinations -- Tristan Gooley, author of How to Read a Tree
Mark Cocker's ode to a remarkable species makes a powerful case for the value of awe in a time of ecological grief * New Statesman *
In his mission to restore a sense of wonder to life's small and ordinary things, Mark Cocker takes us on a soaring journey from the Cretaceous period to a summer's day in his English garden... Lyrical, grand and full of reverence * Guardian, *Book of the Day* *
Cocker brings both nostalgia and universal connections to the swifts' majestic, sky-high adventures * Mail on Sunday *
A stunning celebration – and commemoration – of swifts * New Statesman, *Books of the Year* *
It's not often I am moved to tears. I wish you could reprint the last chapter of One Midsummer's Day as a free-standing essay and give it out to every schoolchild in the country -- Kathleen Jamie, author of The Tree House

ISBN: 9781787332799

Dimensions: 240mm x 162mm x 33mm

Weight: 573g

352 pages