The humble sheep has, in general, struggled to receive its due acknowledgement and respect. It bleats and baas and is disdained for its presumed low IQ, absence of decision-making nous and tendency to run around in circles or block lanes that Range Rover drivers are anxious to negotiate.
But in this exceptional book, the sheep – or at least the Herdwick breed of the Lakeland fells – is at last lifted to its proper status. Under the knowing, affectionate eye of James Rebanks – known to his army of Twitter followers as @herdyshepherd1, the Herdwick Shepherd – it is transformed from bleating booby to doughty, hardy, resourceful, tasty, indispensable four-legged hero of the uplands.
Of course the wilding brigade – led by know-it-all George Monbiot – would like to get rid of them altogether and restore the fells to some prelapsarian forested wilderness roamed by wolves and bears and possibly the odd auroch or woolly mammoth,