The Wild Animal Story

Temple University Press
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At the beginning of the twentieth century, the wild animal story emerged in Canadian literature as a distinct genre, in which animals pursue their own interestssurvival for themselves, their offspring, and perhaps a mate, or the pure pleasure of their wildness. Bringing together some of the most celebrated wild animal stories, Ralph H. Lutts places them firmly in the context of heated controversies about animal intelligence and purposeful behavior. Widely regarded as entertaining and educational, the early storiesby Charles G. D. Roberts, Ernest Thompson Seton, John Muir, Jack London and othershad an avid readership among adults and children. But some naturalists and at least one hunterTheodore Rooseveltdiscredited these writers as "nature fakers," accusing them of falsely portraying animal behavior. The stories and commentaries collected here span the twentieth century. As present day animal behaviorists, psychologists, and the public attempt to sort out the meaning of what animals do and our obligations to them, Ralph Lutts maps some of the prominent features of our cultural landscape.
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About the author

Ralph H. Lutts, Associate Faculty, Goddard College Off-Campus BA./MA Program and Adjunct Faculty, University of Virginia, Division of Continuing Education, is the author of The Nature Fakers: Wildlife, Science, and Sentiment.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Temple University Press
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Published on
Apr 30, 1998
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9781439901502
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Animals / General
Nature / General
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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To Beetle Rock, in the High Sierra, the city folk come in summer to camp, to rest, and to look at the magnificent sky over their heads and the broad sweep of the valley 6,500 feet below them. But they see little of the life that lies about them in the bush and tress—the life, by turns tense, dramatic, playful, happy, hunger-driven, and danger-threatened, of the birds and animals to whom Beetle Rock is home.

This is the life which Sally Carrighar opens to us in these singing pages. Writing with the skill of a first-rate novelist and with the accuracy and judgment of a first-rate naturalist, she shows us what happens to the whole animal community—more than fifty species—of the Rock during one typical day. It is June 18, high tide of the animals’ year. For those twenty-four hours we follow the hunts and foragings, the games and rests, the escapes and friendships of nine creatures: a weasel and her brood, a lizard, a jay, a deer mouse, a chickaree, a Sierra grouse, a coyote, a black bear and her cubs, and a mule deer. And through these nine we come to know all the others, all the vast interlocking complex of non-human life in a place where human visitors leave no lasting impression as they pass by.

Rare indeed is work as fine as this—accurate in fact and in spirit, full of information and keen observation, yet genuinely beautiful and moving in its feeling for the outdoors. With this book, though it was her first, Sally Carrighar stepped into the foremost rank of American nature writers.
From the host of the Travel Channel’s “The Wild Within.”

A hunt for the American buffalo—an 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—there’s only a 2 percent chance of drawing the permit, and fewer than 20 percent of those hunters are successful—Rinella 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.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

The remarkable story of James Howard “Billy” Williams, whose uncanny rapport with the world’s largest land animals transformed him from a carefree young man into the charismatic war hero known as Elephant Bill

In 1920, Billy Williams came to colonial Burma as a “forest man” for a British teak company. Mesmerized by the intelligence and character of the great animals who hauled logs through the jungle, he became a gifted “elephant wallah.” In Elephant Company, Vicki Constantine Croke chronicles Williams’s growing love for elephants as the animals provide him lessons in courage, trust, and gratitude.

Elephant Company is also a tale of war and daring. When Japanese forces invaded Burma in 1942, Williams joined the elite British Force 136 and operated behind enemy lines. His war elephants carried supplies, helped build bridges, and transported the sick and elderly over treacherous mountain terrain. As the occupying authorities put a price on his head, Williams and his elephants faced their most perilous test. Elephant Company, cornered by the enemy, attempted a desperate escape: a risky trek over the mountainous border to India, with a bedraggled group of refugees in tow. Part biography, part war epic, Elephant Company is an inspirational narrative that illuminates a little-known chapter in the annals of wartime heroism.

Praise for Elephant Company

“This book is about far more than just the war, or even elephants. This is the story of friendship, loyalty and breathtaking bravery that transcends species. . . . Elephant Company is nothing less than a sweeping tale, masterfully written.”—Sara Gruen, The New York Times Book Review

“Splendid . . . Blending biography, history, and wildlife biology, [Vicki Constantine] Croke’s story is an often moving account of [Billy] Williams, who earned the sobriquet ‘Elephant Bill,’ and his unusual bond with the largest land mammals on earth.”—The Boston Globe

“Some of the biggest heroes of World War II were even bigger than you thought. . . . You may never call the lion the king of the jungle again.”—New York Post

“Vicki Constantine Croke delivers an exciting tale of this elephant whisperer–cum–war hero, while beautifully reminding us of the enduring bonds between animals and humans.”—Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time
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