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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Get ready to learn everything you could ever want to know about a true American icon: the buffalo. Author Steven Rinella is a committed environmentalist and a sometime buffalo hunter. In this audiobook, he traces the powerful animal’s history back through hundreds of years, linking it with the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Rinella also explores the buffalo’s unique place in the continent’s ecosystems and even explains why its meat is healthy for humans. Those who know Rinella as the host of the Travel Channel’s The Wild Within won’t be surprised that he brings a sense of adventure to his narration. Blessed with the voice of a cowboy, Rinella has a laconic, easygoing style that’s perfect for a man who’s at home on the range—and loves to tell tales around a campfire. This is a fun listen full of plenty of fascinating trivia like what happens when you set bison poop on fire. Whether you’re an American-history buff or an animal lover, American Buffalo is a fascinating read.
Love the analogies
It’s a great book made even better with Steve reading it. “A roll of quarters in a ziplock baggie” pure genius
Amazing book beautifuly narrated