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American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon
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A hunt for the American buffalo¡ªan adventurous, fascinating examination of an animal that has haunted the American imagination.
?
In 2005, Steven Rinella won a lottery permit to hunt for a wild buffalo, or American bison, in the Alaskan wilderness.?Despite the odds¡ªthere¡¯s only a 2 percent chance of drawing the permit, and fewer than 20 percent of those hunters are successful¡ªRinella managed to kill a buffalo on a snow-covered mountainside and then raft the meat back to civilization while being trailed by grizzly bears and suffering from hypothermia. Throughout these adventures, Rinella found himself contemplating his own place among the 14,000 years¡¯ worth of buffalo hunters in North America, as well as the buffalo¡¯s place in the American experience. At the time of the Revolutionary War, North America was home to approximately 40 million buffalo, the largest herd of big mammals on the planet, but by the mid-1890s only a few hundred remained. Now that the buffalo is on the verge of a dramatic ecological recovery across the West, Americans are faced with the challenge of how, and if, we can dare to share our land with a beast that is the embodiment of the American wilderness.

American Buffalo is a narrative tale of Rinella¡¯s hunt. But beyond that, it is the story of the many ways in which the buffalo has shaped our national identity. Rinella takes us across the continent in search of the buffalo¡¯s past, present, and future: to the Bering Land Bridge, where scientists search for buffalo bones amid artifacts of the New World¡¯s earliest human inhabitants; to buffalo jumps where Native Americans once ran buffalo over cliffs by the thousands; to the Detroit Carbon works, a ¡°bone charcoal¡± plant that made fortunes in the late 1800s by turning millions of tons of buffalo bones into bone meal, black dye, and fine china; and even to an abattoir turned fashion mecca in Manhattan¡¯s Meatpacking District, where a depressed buffalo named Black Diamond met his fate after serving as the model for the American nickel.

?Rinella¡¯s erudition and exuberance, combined with his gift for storytelling, make him the perfect guide for a book that combines outdoor adventure with a quirky blend of facts and observations about history, biology, and the natural world. Both a captivating narrative and a book of environmental and historical significance, American Buffalo tells us as much about ourselves as Americans as it does about the creature who perhaps best of all embodies the American ethos.



Amazon Best of the Month, December 2008: Before the 18th century, the American buffalo was the largest land mammal in North America, largely predator-free and roaming the continent in numbers estimated in excess of 40 million. In just over a century, widespread slaughter reduced the population to a few hundred head, and the American West lay beneath a till of bleached bones. When Steven Rinella stumbled over a buffalo skull in Yellowstone National Park, it sparked an obsessive search for the beast's past, from its migration across the Bering land bridge to its near extinction at the hands of western settlers. American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon is his fascinating chronicle, beginning with a search for Black Diamond (the doomed model for the Buffalo Nickel) and including an exploration of "buffalo jumps" (where thousands were run over cliffs by Native American hunters), and tales of bone piles--harvested from the plains for a thriving fertilizer industry--stacked 10 feet high, 20 feet wide, and a half-mile long. Rinella's history is deftly interwoven with his own literal buffalo hunt in Alaska's Wrangell mountains, complete with grizzly bears, raging, ice-rimmed rivers, and bouts of hypothermia and frostbite. Written in a spare style appropriate to the rigors of the frozen wilderness, American Buffalo is engrossing, informative, funny, and a welcome achievement of both natural history and outdoor adventure. --Jon Foro

Customer Reviews:

  • American Buffalo/Bison
    North America has approximately 500,000 buffalos presently.

    During the eighteenth century there must have been forty
    million buffalo roaming in the United States and Canada.

    This book is well written with an excellent approach to the
    environment.

    The author writes that this iconic beast, "represents a frontier
    both forgotten and remembered; it stands for freedom, and captivity,
    extinction and salvation."

    Dag Stomberg
    St. Andrews, Scotland
    ...more info
  • Two stories, told simultaneously
    In this book the author tells two stories simultaneously: the history of the species Bison bison, and the story of his own bison hunt. A certain number of permits to hunt bison are issued each year, and the author got one. He also got his bison. He tells, in riveting detail, how he cut up the bison in a remote location and carried out its meat and hide. He almost didn't make it: the obstacles were mainly grizzly bears and a very fast, cold river.

    That part of his own adventures is well told. But he could have left out some of the other first person narrative and the book would have been tighter.

    The well-researched history of the Bison genus and the Bison bison species is the best part of the book. The author explains how bison got to this continent and how paleo-Indians hunted them. HIs picture of our continent circa 10,000 years ago is detailed and beautiful. Too bad we messed everything up. Our only consolation is that paleo indians messed it up too by exterminating some of the coolest, biggest mammal species that have ever existed. There is still debate about whether over hunting caused the extinction of species like the ground sloth and dire wolf. The author believes that paleo Indians hunted them to extinction. I can believe this when it comes to ground sloths; but it seems as if it would have been hard for stone age hunters to wipe out enormous wolves. Maybe the wolves died when their prey were gone....more info
  • Great story for hunter or history buff
    If you grew up, as I did, reading the monthly tales from Warren Page and Jack O'Conner in the hunting and fishing magazines, you will recognise the story arc of this book. It begins with the crash of the prey falling to the thunder of the author's rifle, then moves in flashbacks to how it all happened. It is a familiar story because it can be a good story and this one is one of the best.

    I have hunted white-tailed deer in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan. And lots of smaller game. I am ethically bound to eat what I shoot. I think it is fundamentally wrong to take "trophies" for the wall or to be listed in a record book, whether it fur or finned. I have seen elk and moose in the wild, but never hunted them because I knew it would be way more work than am prepared for if I did manage bring one of them down.

    The American Buffalo is even bigger, and if it is a real hunt (not a farm shoot) it means even more work than an elk or moose.

    Steven Rinella was up to the work and did a fine job of describing just what the task included. The remoteness, the cold, the difficult terrain, the real probability of grizzly bear or wolves taking the dead bison from him after the shot, are all related in an un-embellished style. Three days of hard labor to prepare 700 pounds of meat and bones and hide to pack out to a freezing river and transport it out.

    Along the way he also gives a wonderfull back-story about the place of the Buffalo in human culture in North America. It dovetails nicely with "1491" a book which describes the Western continents just before the arrival of Europeans. Who knew in 1491 there was a city on the Mississippi River that was bigger than London of that time? Steven Rinella explains how the American Buffalo played an important part in supporting that population concentration.

    Who would guess that the decline of frogs in American today could be related to the removal of the Buffalo herds from the American plains a hundred years ago? Rinella offers a flow of events that make the Buffalo an intimate essential for the ecology of North American and the culture of its human population for the last twenty thousand years.

    Twenty four hunters were issued permits for the seven month season. Rinella and three others were successful. "How can I claim to love the very animal I worked so hard to kill?" Rinella asks himself. "I've thought of this often lately, yet I have not been able to answer it with force and conviction. For now, I
    rely on a response that is admitedly glib: I just do, and I always will."

    The North American that had Warren and Jack arguing over the merits of the 7mm Magnum Rifle cartridge against the .270 Winchester is long gone. It is our good fortune that Steven Rinella can remind us of what it costs to be a Buffalo hunter.


    ...more info
  • Not at all what I expected but a good read
    By the title I expected a historical story about the buffalo. It wasn't what I expected but I enjoyed the book because it is well written and it flows smoothly. I found it to be a nice mixture of personal experience and thoughtful reflection on this majestic beast. By profession I am an analyst and write a lot but in technical terms. I really appreciated the authors ability to describe the things that he saw and the things that he researched in both a sensitive way and in some cases humorous way. I would recommend this work to anyone who enjoys reading - They won't be disappointed. I am going to give the book to my son-in-law to read and have him review it here as well....more info
  • Roam away from this book
    Early on in AMERICAN BUFFALO, Steven Rinella describes something he likes to do to people at parties -- he bombards them with trivia about buffalo, connecting fact to fact to fact in a sort of "six degrees of buffalo separation." In the course of reading this book, I began to feel like one of Rinella's victims, trapped in a corner of the dining room with an empty wineglass and a plate of hors d'oeuvre crumbs, looking around the room, hoping to catch somebody's eye so I have a legitimate excuse for ditching this buffalo guy.

    Steven Rinella appears to be obsessed with buffalo. This is all well and good -- what do writers write about, if not their obsessions? But this book is little more than an avalanche of facts, hurled at the reader in no particular order, with no particular structure or arc. Bottom-of-page footnotes appear regularly, are lengthy, and are so tangential they shouldn't have been included at all. The writing is amateurish -- to call it imprecise would be kind. I will be kind.

    This book is a good example of what could have been a perfectly good magazine article, with a lot of air blown into it, in an attempt to make it a book. Given Rinella's obsession with the history and ways of buffalo, perhaps it could even have been _several_ magazine articles. But the information does not hang together as a book in any way. There's no through-line. Indeed, toward the end of the book, we find ourselves in the snow with Rinella at the exact same spot as the opening of the book, yet even this seems like sloppiness ("Doesn't he realize he wrote this part already?") rather than the recapitulation of a theme, or anything else meaningful.

    Rinella does manage to telegraph the physical awesomeness of the buffalo -- the function of the animal's oversized trachea, the structure of the legs, etc. -- and I was pleased to learn those things. But these were slim pickings indeed for a book about one of America's iconic animals....more info
  • A Great American Hunting Adventure
    American Buffalo is yet another great addition to the true adventure of the modern American hunter. We have all dreamed of hunts like Steven Rinella has been on through his writing of the Scavengers Guide and American Buffalo and through his writing, Mr. Rinella has taken us along on his great adventure to harvest the American Buffalo.

    In American Buffalo, the reader leans about the historical importance of the buffalo to all American cultures and learns to respect it in many ways. Right at the point of the kill, when the author pauses out of great respect, I too, thought of hunts where I have encountered that same feeling of respect. After re-reading the preceding paragraphs several times (I really wanted to be there at that moment with him) I finally was able to take that next step.

    It was a great book that was fun to read. And it's nice to know that in Steven Rinella's words there are others out there that- will do something impractical just to prove that they aren't candyasses....more info
  • Wonderful story seeped in history
    I cringed, I laughed, I cried, and I really liked this book. In 259 pages I have been to the dawn of the American Bison and back. Not always a pretty road but one that holds promise. I feel I have a fuller picture of Bison, an animal I have been interested in since my trip to Yellowstone, and I can now look at them with greater appreciation.Maybe a bit more understanding for hunters. Steve Rinella is really living life and with his vivid story telling art, we are the richer for it. This book has true gut wrenching meaning, eye opening knowledge with a heavy dose of absorbable history along the way....more info
  • One man's obsession with the buffalo
    For non-fiction readers who love to delve into the details, American Buffalo won't disappoint. The author chronicles his initial fascination with the animal when he finds a partial skull while hiking. He tracks the buffalo on mountains to Alaska and back, in libraries, ranches, museums and tourist attractions. The "American" buffalo almost didn't survive life in America.

    Rinella gives us the highs and lows of the buffalo's existence; at one point the population dipped to less than one thousand. How these animals survived is a remarkable story. What makes the buffalo so well adapated to cold weather is fascinating. Buffalo have "anatomical tricks" that help them survive in extreme temperatures. One such trick: the buffalo's trachea is larger than that of other large land mammals so it can warm the air it breathes before it gets to the lungs.

    This is a definite winner for non-fiction fans....more info
  • The Quixotic Adventures of a Buffalo Boy
    Round about 1975, on an isthmus between two unmapped but named branches of a cold-flowing river in the Maine wilderness, John McPhee, a writer; Henri Vaillancourt, a canoe maker and two friends, chanced upon what still bears our astonishment: "Just before the shore of Eagle, we drop our packs, set down the canoes and stare in disbelief at what may be the most incongruous sight any of us have ever seen: two full-scale steam locomotives in the woods, abandoned."

    They sustained their voyages through that Northern territory following Henry David Thoreau, who sauntered and paddled there before them, in 1846, 1853 and 1857, and wrote about his own quixotic adventures in another of his fabulous and largely ignored volumes, THE MAINE WOODS. Here is Thoreau, reaching the summit of Mount Ktaadn, slipping the traps and trivialities of his companions, but not yet sighting upon the exhilarating freedom for which he tells us his Concord meditations beforehand had prepared him:

    At length I entered within the skirts of the
    cloud which seemed forever drifting over
    the summit, and yet would never be gone,
    but was generated out of that pure air as
    fast as it flowed away; and when,a
    quarter of a mile farther, I reached the
    summit of the ridge... I was deep within
    the hostile ranks of clouds....

    It was vast, Titanic, and such as man
    never inhabits. Some part of the beholder,
    even some vital part, seems to escape
    through the loose grating of his ribs as he
    ascends.

    Titanic, Thoreau calls it, both the bulk of it and its elemental, inimical Force. In a different tenure Thoreau would write: The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. What else he learned in Maine was on what uneasy terms men, a man, inhabits that Wild.

    Spellbinding tellers-of-tales narrate lost memories of the Wild, the hunt and Original People, preserving and furthering the idea of freedom. This above all else. This inchoate urge propelling Eve and Adam from the African Motherland, breathing life into millennia of eastward migrations, pushing Siberian tribes across rolling Beringian hills and down through the ice corridor to grow strong and tall hunting the brown hordes. Let the buffalo roam.

    Steven Rinella is a brazen new voice in this ancient tradition. Here is a writer who has never seen a wilderness he doesn't want to play in, who can never enter the woods without discovering the literal sense of it:

    I've often found elk like this, just by
    smelling them. I can usually tell the
    difference between the smell of elk
    that are there and the smell of elk
    that used to be there. This odor
    now has a strange touch of warmth
    to it, like they are either here or
    have just left.

    He has a fond connoisseurship for buffalo poop:

    The perfect specimen has the
    circumference of a baseball cap,
    with folded layers like a sheik's turban.
    It's as dense as a gingersnap
    cookie,with the texture of old
    cardboard that's been wet and
    dried out again.

    And like Thoreau, he writes well of clouds:

    Earlier, the cloud cover was high
    and loosely packed, but it seems
    to have grown thick and dense. The
    clouds come to an abrupt end toward
    the northern horizon. As I watch them,
    something rather surreal happens; the
    sky to the north becomes completely
    clear, and for the briefest moment,
    just seconds, I can see the entire
    southern exposure of the mountain
    peaks.... They stand like enormous
    paper weights whose job it is to anchor
    the world in place.

    Early in the book, Rinella recounts a recurring nightmare: groping in a cold, murky place for a trapped muskrat, he finds instead a human corpse. The Alaskan wilderness through which he fights his way after winning a buffalo tag in the state lottery holds death as easily as any place on earth and metes it out to the lucky and luckless alike. There are such an astonishing number of ways that buffalo find to die that it is a miracle, he tells us, that they have survived at all.

    Mired in mud bogs, river bottoms, quicksand and tar pits; run over cliffs, taken by torrents, they die, in the millions, by drowning. Tornadoes explode them, lightening electrocutes them, prairie fires incinerate them; now as then, 9% of buffalo deaths come through nature's unlicensed caprices. But there is no argument that it was us, mountain men, professional hunters, brigands, killers for "sport", pioneers, railroad thugs who hunted them nearly to extinction.

    The buffalo's harrowing story - they are now steadily growing in numbers to about 500,000 - is comedic in the Aristotelian sense and forms the stern moral backdrop of Rinella's saga. But it is the telling of his own buffalo hunt which carries the day, and the reader.

    Alone in a wilderness is a different kind of alone, and when Rinella at last finds the animals he has been tracking for days, he is alone, his friends having returned to jobs and obligations, alone with his friends' farewell - "Nice knowing you." By the time they reunite with him, he has made his kill, and is trying to move 1000 pounds of meat, bone and fur down a treacherous, ice-bound river. Nearing his own end, as if the portent of his dream has structured it, he is plucked from the killing water by the strong arm of Hardcore Jeffy. Hypothermia had set in. I reckon he would have been dead before another human hand touched him.

    The last page of Steven Rinella's book is coda to his wonderful composition. It is as beautiful a piece of writing as you are likely to find. It's about freedom, freedom and renewal.

    Let the buffalo roam.
    ...more info
  • Steven Rinella hits another home run.
    I purchased this latest effort from Steven Rinella based largely on how much I enjoyed his, The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine.

    I think what I enjoy the most about Rinella's writings is the fact that an object that he discovers leads him on a path of discovery and adventure. In fiction this would be a simple enough plot but this isn't fiction this is the "real deal".

    Woven into Rinella tales are a cast of family and friends that a person can only wish they could meet and enjoy. These people would fit nicely into any screen play or novel, but once again we are talking the "real deal".

    One disclaimer. I have been a history buff and student of history since high school and taught American History for 33 years in my teaching career. Rinella's history is perfect and accurate. If you don't love history, as I do, you might find it's part in this book a bit too much.

    Get it, read it, you will be glad that you did!! ...more info
  • All you ever wanted to know about buffalo, and then some
    Steven Rinella's work is a compelling book. He is a proficient writer, and a master of the simile. On the many occasions he would try to make something clear, he would do so masterfully. The book is filled with an exhaustive amount of information about the animal. My only quibble with the work is that on a few occasions especially early on, the book would sometimes get bogged down with more information than I could find interesting. The author spends a section going over the evolution of the buffalo and the scientific names for the buffalo throughout all the evolutionary periods. Occasionally his narrative would become a textbook. On the other hand, some of the information is genuinely interesting such as the fact that Ted Turner owns more buffalo than all that exist in the wild put together, or the flash flood in New Mexico that changed the direction of archaeology.
    That aside, the book is very interesting and well done. I had thought it was more of a survivor/hunting narrative than it turned out to be so to a degree I was disappointed with the work. However, about halfway into the book I was hooked. For someone who is interested in the buffalo and an interesting account of one man's interaction with the beast this is an easy recommendation.
    ...more info
  • A Fascinating View of America's Buffalo
    Steven Rinella has a life-long obsession -- and that's with buffalo. In the case of this book, that's a good thing because I've learned more about buffalo and the American West than I ever knew before -- and I live here!

    The book gives so much fascinating historical information on buffalo and how humans nearly drove them to extinction as well as how the buffalo were saved that you'd think the book would be boring. Quite the contrary. Rinella weaves facts with excellent storytelling and has a quite readable style.

    I really enjoyed this book. If you're anti-hunting, you may not like this book, but since I love buffalo meat, this is quite a treat to read. This is the story of Rinella's hunt in the Copper Basin in Alaska, but it is more the story of humans and their relationship with the bison. A great read. I recommend it highly. I only wish the photos were bigger. ...more info
  • A very interesting hodgepodge of a book.
    This book is divided into two main parts. One is the author's story of his buffalo hunt in Alaska. The other half is a very interesting mis-mash of all things buffalo-from the roots of the buffalo's evolutionary predecessors to the American Indian's relationship to the animal to the efforts to save the wild buffalo. All of it was very interesting and some might be controversial such as some observations about the Indian's interactions with the buffalo. Suffice it to say it might not all have been as noble as Kevin Costner might have us believe. A word of warning-the graphic depiction of the butchering of the author's kill may be a bit much for some people. All in all very entertaining and quite interesting....more info
  • Hunter's Lit. Learn the mythic legend and lore of the American Buffalo while hunting for one in Alaska.
    American Buffalo is a two-fold book; it sucks the reader into a hunting adventure while also learning the lore and history of the American Buffalo. The author, an avid longtime hunter, takes us on his first buffalo hunting trip in Alaska. While taking us along in his hunting trip, he narrates the history, both tragic and fascinating, of the American Buffalo who seems fated to die in masses. Regardless if in the hands of nature, Native Americans, or the white man; whether in recent history or in the more distant past, these giant beasts were slaughtered by the tons, if not more.

    After reading this book, it's amazing we have any buffalo at all! The buffalo we have today may not even be genetically pure. Why these beasts were so profoundly sought out boggles the mind. These, and many other interesting bits of information, is the kind of stuff the author shares with his readers while he also writes about his buffalo hunting adventure in Alaska.

    The stories the author shares come across as lore, legend, and tall tales much like stories shared over a few beers. Chick lit it is not. Hunter's lit it most definitely is. The reader is taken on a hunting trip completely detailed by the author. He tells you how cold it is, the trails they find, the encounters with wolves and bears, the equipment they use, the meals they eat, the buffalo chips he picks up, the near fatal rafting incident, some of the dumb mistakes he does, and lastly some dumb luck. Oh, and Willem Dafoe too.

    Several black and white photos are included that help with the author's narrative.

    American Buffalo is witty, informative, and a bit humorous. Every time I picked up this book to read just a few more pages, I got sucked away into reading a whole lot more until life interrupts and I have to put the book down again. I passed the book to my father who quickly got sucked into the book as well. It's a good read, especially if you appreciate buffaloes or enjoy hunting.

    However, you don't have to be a hunter to enjoy this book. I am not - I'm just a simple mom who likes buffalo meat - and I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I enjoyed reading the history of this amazing animal although I was overwhelmed of the mass slaughter involved. I have a new respect for buffalo - may they continue to prosper and flow our lands again both free and "domesticated" versions. ...more info
  • Great Book
    Rinella is a talented author. He weaves the history of the buffalo into his own story of hunting buffalo in Alaska. The hunting passages are exciting even to a "non-hunter" like me. The book, like much of current environmentalism, is mix of regret and hope. The book is worth the time to read it. ...more info
  • An excellent diversion
    Agree with all the 4- and 5-star reviews. This is an excellent read, both educational and entertaining, and even awe-inspiring in places. Rinella turns out to be a much better writer than I had thought. It started out a bit slowly, but by a third of the way through the text he has definitely grabbed hold of the reader. By the end, one feels as if one has been right alongside Rinella on his hunting trek, and glad to be alive to tell the tale! Definitely worth picking up (or checking out) if you have any interest at all in natural and human history, archeology, the Great Plains, North American wildlife (especially buffalo), Native American cultures, hunting, or just plain outdoor adventure. Rinella deserves some kind of award for this book, it's that good. I will never look at buffalo the same way. Only one minor caveat: the descriptions of field dressing/butchering the buffalo are not for the squeamish....more info
  • Entertaining and Informative Memoir and Tribute to the American Buffalo
    Initially, I was put off by this book. I did not think I was interested in a hunting memoir. However, I have always been fascinated by the buffalo and, eventually, decided to read this book.

    I was not disappointed. In 2005, Richella was one of 24 hunters selected in a lottery to hunt buffalo near Alaska's Wrangell Mountains. The book is in part the story of that hunt. But, it is much more than that. It is the story of a man and his obsession with an animal that he loves and reveres. This obsession, which was prompted by stumbling on a buffalo skull in Yellowstone National Park, leads Rinella all over the world to learn the history of the buffalo and the relationship between humans and buffaloes. All of this benefits the readers, as the final product of Mr. Rinella's wandering and research is a thoroughly enjoyable, fluidly written, and incredibly wise memoir/tribute to the American Buffalo.

    Another thing I took away from this book was a new respect for dedicated hunters. The simplistic (and often negative) views of hunters and hunting I held as a youth do not do justice to folks who are willing to go out and obtain their own food. At one point, right after he has shot the buffalo, Rinella writes "This is how food is made". There are not many of us who are this close to the origins of our food and that is to be respected. Further, I found Rinella's honesty about the grief he felt after the hunt quite refreshing and real. In that vein, I saw several reviews indicating this book would only be of interest to hunters. I want to disagree. As a non-hunter, I found the information about buffaloes fascinating and the bits about hunting eye-opening. As such, I do not hesitate in suggesting this to any reader who is looking for an excellent book.
    ...more info
  • Bison on my mind . . . and in my sights
    Steven Rinella is fascinated by bison. It's not entirely clear why, but it's a good thing because he's written a fascinating and distinctive book about the animal. It begins with him butchering a bison that he has just shot, and the final chapters return to him as he hauls the meat away. If such scenes disturb you, don't read the book. But for the rest of us, it's a great read.

    Rinella has an amazing ability to wander off topic in the middle of a narrative. He might be skinning his bison and the next thing you know he's telling you how the loss of buffalo wallows in Kansas is bad for frogs. Before you know it, you're back in Alaska hanging the hide to dry.

    The whole book is like that. Rinella is a talented writer who can get away with these wanderings, and he's surprisingly knowledgeable about the natural history of this North American icon. It works.

    Definitely recommended.
    ...more info
  • informative yet entertaining
    As a whole, I really enjoyed this book. I was a bit apprehensive when first starting out because I was afraid it would be some guy writing about his hunt and conquering nature with a lot of chest beating; pleasantly, it was not! The book is filled with all sorts of facts and historical background of the buffalo but is broken up with great anecdotes about buffalo that help keep the narrative entertaining. I did find the chapter that deals with the Native American's history somewhat disturbing as it totally challenged my idea of the 'Indian' and the concept of the 'Indian' as being an earth protector and only taking what was needed. The pictures in my copy are also terrible and would have been better left out as the quality is awful and aren't really necessary to the story. That aside, I would recommend this book whole heartedly -- and have! -- as it is as entertaing as it is infomative and offers a fresh perspective on an animal that truly was/is an important part of culture....more info
  • Anyone interested in buffalo?
    To start with I am neither a hunter nor a male, but I found this book a very entertaining and educational read. The entertaining part was do to the author's ability to write. I think we have all picked up books of some subject that we are interested in only to find that you struggle through the book because the author has no business writing a book. Then you come across a book where you may have only a passing fancy in the subject and you find yourself a new favorite "thing". This author has the ability to write and tell about his adventure and passion in an engrossing manner, but to top it off he includes alot of history and background at the same time. He does it in such a manner that the book would not be half as good without it. I suppose you could equate it to how you could enjoy anything taught by that one teacher who could make anything interesting. On another note, the author does get fairly graphic with the skinning and some of the language may offend some. I would say this would be a wonderful addition to anyone's library who has interest in buffalo or in the old west. ...more info
  • Hunter's Lit. Learn the mythic legend and lore of the American Buffalo while hunting for one in Alaska.
    American Buffalo is a two-fold book; it sucks the reader into a hunting adventure while also learning the lore and history of the American Buffalo. The author, an avid longtime hunter, takes us on his first buffalo hunting trip in Alaska. While taking us along in his hunting trip, he narrates the history, both tragic and fascinating, of the American Buffalo who seems fated to die in masses. Regardless if in the hands of nature, Native Americans, or the white man; whether in recent history or in the more distant past, these giant beasts were slaughtered by the tons, if not more.

    After reading this book, it's amazing we have any buffalo at all! The buffalo we have today may not even be genetically pure. Why these beasts were so profoundly sought out boggles the mind. These, and many other interesting bits of information, is the kind of stuff the author shares with his readers while he also writes about his buffalo hunting adventure in Alaska.

    The stories the author shares come across as lore, legend, and tall tales much like stories shared over a few beers. Chick lit it is not. Hunter's lit it most definitely is. The reader is taken on a hunting trip completely detailed by the author. He tells you how cold it is, the trails they find, the encounters with wolves and bears, the equipment they use, the meals they eat, the buffalo chips he picks up, the near fatal rafting incident, some of the dumb mistakes he does, and lastly some dumb luck. Oh, and Willem Dafoe too.

    Several black and white photos are included that help with the author's narrative.

    American Buffalo is witty, informative, and a bit humorous. Every time I picked up this book to read just a few more pages, I got sucked away into reading a whole lot more until life interrupts and I have to put the book down again. I passed the book to my father who quickly got sucked into the book as well. It's a good read, especially if you appreciate buffaloes or enjoy hunting.

    However, you don't have to be a hunter to enjoy this book. I am not - I'm just a simple mom who likes buffalo meat - and I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I enjoyed reading the history of this amazing animal although I was overwhelmed of the mass slaughter involved. I have a new respect for buffalo - may they continue to prosper and flow our lands again both free and "domesticated" versions. ...more info
  • American Buffalo - for those of us who share a fascination of these beautiful animals.
    The author grew up with a fascination with the Buffalo, as have I. However, he has pursued his interest by learning everything possible about these animals and their place in American history. The book culminates in the author's opportunity to hunt buffalo in Alaska and his experiences and feelings while doing so. I generally have no interest, and an aversion to hunting in general, but still could appreciate the emotions and actions the author went through on this hunt. Really an interesting book; makes me want to go out West just to see these beautiful creatures....more info