Barbara Hurd’s Listening to the Savage weaves rich explorations of science, history, mythology, literature, and music. The listening of the book delineates and champions a kind of attentiveness to what is not easily heard and is written in language that is as precise as it is poetic, providing original ways of engagement in the natural world.
As in Hurd’s other books, the previously unknown or the barely known become less mysterious but still retain the quality of mystery. The book presumes that nature is a mix of the chaotic and the wondrous. It addresses worry and advocacy—worry about our carelessness that can destroy the balance of that mix and a cry for us to pay more attention to humanity’s relationship to natural history.
Listen, be alert, it says without hectoring. Rivers, ferns, streams, birds all have a life that is delicate and worth preserving. Barbara Hurd is one of our nest environmental writers, and this book will please the choir and persuade those on the ambivalent edge.