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John Wright is a passionate natural historian and the author of the River Cottage Handbooks Mushrooms, Edible Seashore, Hedgerow and Booze. As well as writing for national publications, he often appears on the River Cottage series for Channel 4. He gives lectures on natural history and every year he takes around fifty 'forays' showing people how to collect food - plants from the hedgerow, seaweeds and shellfish from the shore and mushrooms from pasture and wood. Over a period of twenty years he has taken around five hundred such forays. Fungi are his greatest passion and he has thirty-five years' experience in studying them. John Wright is a member of the British Mycological Society and a Fellow of the Linnaean Society. He lives in rural West Dorset with his wife and two teenage daughters. @johnmushroom / www.wild-food.net
Latin names - frequently unpronounceable, all too often wrong and always a tiny puzzle to unravel - have been annoying the layman since they first became formalised as scientific terms in the eighteenth century. Why on earth has the entirely land-loving Eastern Mole been named Scalopus aquaticus, or the Oxford Ragwort been called Senecio squalidus - 'dirty old man'? What were naturalists thinking when they called a beetle Agra katewinsletae, a genus of fish Batman, and a Trilobite Han solo? Why is zoology replete with names such as Chloris chloris chloris (the greenfinch), and Gorilla gorilla gorilla (a species of, well gorilla)? The Naming of the Shrew will unveil these mysteries, exploring the history, celebrating their poetic nature and revealing how naturalists sometimes get things so terribly wrong. With wonderfully witty style and captivating narrative, this book will make you see Latin names in a whole new light.
This compelling text sheds light on the important but under studied trans-Saharan slave trade. The author uncovers and surveys this, the least-noticed of the slave trades out of Africa, which from the seventh to the twentieth centuries quielty delievered almost as many black Africans into foreign servitude as did the far busier, but much briefer Atlantic and East African trades. Illuminating for the first time a significant, but ignored subject, the book supports and widens current scholarly examination of Africans' essential role in the enslavement of fellow-Africans and their delivery to internal, Atlantic or trans-Saharan markets.
Hedgerows, moors, meadows and woods - these hold a veritable feast for the forager. In this hugely informative and witty handbook, John Wright reveals how to spot the free and delicious pickings to be found in the British countryside, and how to prepare and cook them. First John touches on the basics for the hedgerow forager, with an introduction to conservation, safety, the law, and all the equipment that you may need. Next he guides you through the tasty edible species to be found. Each one is accompanied by photographs for identification, along with their conservation status, habitat, distribution, season, taste, texture and cooking methods - not forgetting, of course, some fascinating asides and diversions about their taxonomy and history. Fifty species are covered, including bilberries, blackberries, raspberries, common mallow, dandelions, hedge garlic, horseradish, pignuts, nettles, sloes, sweet chestnuts, water mint, bulrushes and wild cherries. After this there is a section describing the poisonous species to steer clear of, with identifying photographs as well as warnings about nasty 'lookalikes'. Finally, there are thirty delicious recipes to show how you can make the most of your (edible) findings. Introduced by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hedgerow is an indispensable household reference, and an essential book to have by your side for every trip into the countryside.
Forty years ago (September 1969) Moammar Gadafi seized power in Libya in a military coup. To mark this event, John Wright has made this selection from his own shorter writings which examine and explain Libya's complex and troubled past - the historical interplay of events, influences and personalities that helped to shape the modern state. From this selection read about... o Why, in about 1860, Britain lost its earlier enthusiasm for Tripoli and the Sahara as a 'Gateway to Africa' o What made the Zionist movement drop plans to settle one million East European Jews in Cyrenaica o Why Mussolini accepted the 'Sword of Islam' in Tripoli in 1937 o The first welfare issue to preoccupy the British Eighth Army as it captured Tripoli in January 1943 o Why Libya had such an easy passage to independence in 1951 o How, as a young leader, Moammar Gadafi was publicly ridiculed and put down by an Arab leader nearly old enough to be his grandfather who claimed Libyans were still living in the days of Adam and Eve. These are just some of the issues John Wright discusses in these 20 chapters, here usefully collected under one cover from the many books and journals in which they first appeared. John Wright, was formerly the chief political commentator and analyst of the BBC Arabic Service, specialising in Libya, the Sahara and the international oil industry.
In 1939, John Wright, a four-year-old boy from a deprived but loving Middlesbrough home, was uprooted from his family and evacuated to a large house in North Yorkshire, requisitioned as a nursery school. His story is not unlike any other during the upheaval of wartime, but in this remarkably lucid and detailed set of recollections, a seventy-three-year-old man tells his story of love, loss and life with the delight and fear of a wartime child. His poignant memories of cruelty and hurt are set against a beautiful voyage of discovery as a young boy explores the Yorkshire countryside and comes of age in a unique environment, only to be struck by an unbearable tragedy. A bittersweet tale of innocence and stark realities, Child from Home explores why wartime means so much to our collective memory - and reveals the devastating effect we have on children as we try to protect them from conflict.
For the forager, the seashore holds surprising culinary potential. In this authoritative, witty book John Wright takes us on a trip to the seaside. But before introducing us to the various species to be harvested, he touches on such practicalities as conservation and the ethics of foraging; safety from tides, rocks and food poisoning; the law and access to the shore, our right to fish, landing sizes and seasons; and equipment such as nets, pots and hooks. Next comes the nitty-gritty: all the main British seashore species that one might be tempted to eat. The conservation status, taste and texture, availability, seasonality, habitat, collecting technique and biology of each species is covered; there are also quite a few gratuitous but fascinating diversions. The species covered include crustacea (brown shrimp, common crab, lobster, prawn, shore crab, spider crab, squat lobster, velvet swimming crab); molluscs (clams, cockle, dog whelk, limpet, mussel, oyster, razor clam, winkle); mushrooms; plants (alexanders, babbington's orache, fennel, frosted orache, marsh samphire, perennial wall rocket, rock samphire, sea beet, sea buckthorn, sea holly, sea kale, sea purslane, sea rocket, spear-leaved orache, wild cabbage, wild thyme); and seaweed (carragheen, dulse, gut weed, laver, pepper dulse, sea lettuce, sugar kelp, kelp). Finally, there are thirty brilliant recipes. Introduced by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Edible Seashore is destined to join the other handbooks in the series as an indispensable household reference.