H is for Hawk
A New York Times bestseller

Winner of the Costa Book Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize

When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life.

Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer's eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

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H is for Hawk Reviews

  • Sara Steger
    Sep 12, 2016

    Sara Steger

    I do not read enough non-fiction. When I come to a book like this one, it makes me wonder why. Helen Macdonald has written a marvelous chronicle of her journey from grief to acceptance, achieved through the training of a goshawk. When Helen loses her father, she loses her stability. He...

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    Sep 8, 2016

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    This is probably a decent book and several of my smarty-farty friends have read it, but we all know I'm a moron and every time it is spammed recommended to me on my feed I can only picture this . . . . ^^^^^Now that book I would totally read. ...

  • Julie
    Jul 26, 2016


    Here’s a word. Bereavement. Or Bereaved. Bereft. It’s from the Old English bereafian, meaning ‘to deprive of, take away, seize, rob’.Here’s another word: raptor, meaning ‘bird of prey’. From the Latin raptor, meaning ‘robber,’ from rapere me...

  • Malia
    May 30, 2016


    I didn't know what to expect from this book, despite having read the summary and several glowing reviews. It seemed to have an odd premise, added to that I'm not a huge fan of reading non fiction, nor do I have an interest in birds of prey. Nonetheless, I was intrigued and grabbed a co...

  • Rebecca Foster
    Apr 12, 2016

    Rebecca Foster

    In an original blend of memoir, biography and nature writing, Macdonald reveals how raising Mabel the goshawk helped her heal after her father’s sudden death. Throughout, Macdonald compares her own falconry experience to that of T.H. White, who, in the 1930s, was a lonely schoolte...

  • Brad
    Apr 2, 2016


    I generally don't do memoirs, but not because I'm a snob for everything else. I don't do them because I'm not really interested. A bit more oddly, I'm only mildly interested in hawks and falcons. I certainly never went out of my way to learn more after reading Stephen King's The Gunsli...

  • Melanie
    Mar 15, 2016


    "If birds are made of air, as the nature writer Sy Montgomery says, then writing a great bird book is a little like dusting for the fingerprints of a ghost. It calls for poetry and science, conjuring and evidence. In her breathtaking new book, “H Is for Hawk,” winner of the S...

  • Michael
    Mar 9, 2016


    Helen Macdonald is a college English teacher who goes into a tailspin after the death of her father. She works her way out of her grief by taking up the challenging task of mastering and training a goshawk. She had the experience of working with smaller, more common hawks in her youth,...

  • Francisco
    Jan 28, 2016


    The three strands of this book woven seamlessly by the author are: the author's grief from the loss of her father, the story of T.H. White's (the author of The Sword and the Stone) misguided attempts to tame a hawk (and the story of his sad life); and the author's own account of traini...

  • Snotchocheez
    Nov 11, 2015


    I certainly would not want to dissuade anyone from reading H is for Hawk, Cambridge professor Helen Macdonald's moving memoir of coping with the loss of her photojournalist father. Her twin academic disciplines of English and ornithology (specifically, falconry) provide the source of h...