How nature has shaped history
Author: Clive Finlayson
Date First Published: 01/10/2001
Some years have passed since eminent biologist and anthropologist Clive Finlayson graced the book list with his striking ornithological studies in the classic best-seller Birds of Iberia.
He now returns with an evocative, wonderfully illustrated, personal tribute to the Iberian Peninsula, embracing history, geography and ecology, which he modestly sums up as "the story of olives, tuna, cork forests, vultures, wolves and humans".
The historical element spans five million years, from the opening of the Strait of Gibraltar to the present day; its geographical breadth takes in the old territory of al-Andalus, from Tarifa and Gibraltar in the south to the Cantabrian Mountains and the Pyrenees in the north; and its ecological scope extends from the coastal marshes of Doñana to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada.
This is also the story of the countless individuals who had an impact on the land and its surrounding waters - from the earliest fishermen through the Romans to the tuna industry controllers of today - and it vividly relates the medieval struggle between Islam and Christianity and the role of the landscape in that struggle.
From a loving appreciation of the richness of the peninsula's wildlife to an intriguing account of the last Neanderthal, this book will strike a chord of interest in everyone who has made al-Andalus their home or devotes a good deal of time to being here.