Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Being a Beast is Charles Foster's memoir of his attempt to inhabit the lives of a half dozen animals. In it, Foster regales us with tales of foraging through urban refuse (as a fox); dashing across moors with dogs in chase (as a deer); burrowing in the woods (as a badger), and more. It's a wacky project but Foster proves himself to be a storyteller of uncommon ability, which helps his book become something more than a curiosity. Rather, it's one of the most audacious and engaging books I've read in ages. Full of humor, brash opinions, and constantly verging on wildness, Being a Beast proves just how tantalizingly close--and yet ever-distant--we are to our fellow creatures. It's the kind of mind-expanding work that challenges readers, in the most fun way imaginable, to reconsider their own humanity. Read it!

— sparks


A passionate naturalist explores what it's really like to be an animal--by living like them

How can we ever be sure that we really know the other? To test the limits of our ability to inhabit lives that are not our own, Charles Foster set out to know the ultimate other: the non-humans, the beasts. And to do that, he tried to be like them, choosing a badger, an otter, a fox, a deer, and a swift. He lived alongside badgers for weeks, sleeping in a sett in a Welsh hillside and eating earthworms, learning to sense the landscape through his nose rather than his eyes. He caught fish in his teeth while swimming like an otter; rooted through London garbage cans as an urban fox; was hunted by bloodhounds as a red deer, nearly dying in the snow. And he followed the swifts on their migration route over the Strait of Gibraltar, discovering himself to be strangely connected to the birds.

A lyrical, intimate, and completely radical look at the life of animals--human and other--Being a Beast mingles neuroscience and psychology, nature writing and memoir to cross the boundaries separating the species. It is an extraordinary journey full of thrills and surprises, humor and joy. And, ultimately, it is an inquiry into the human experience in our world, carried out by exploring the full range of the life around us.

About the Author

Charles Foster is a Fellow of Green Templeton College at the University of Oxford. He is a qualified veterinarian, teaches medical law and ethics, and is a practicing barrister. Much of his life has been spent on expeditions: he has run a 150-mile race in the Sahara, skied to the North Pole, and suffered injuries in many desolate and beautiful landscapes. He has written on travel, evolutionary biology, natural history, anthropology, and philosophy.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781627796330
ISBN-10: 1627796339
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Publication Date: June 21st, 2016
Pages: 256
Language: English