The following are some of American Prairie Reserve’s favorite books that are closely related to our project. They are the must-reads on ranching, wildlife, and sociological issues, from bison behavior to life in Phillips County, Montana.
Dale was a significant advisor to APF and a member of our Advisory Council. His book is the result of a lifetime of study. “Written with unusual grace and verve, American Bison
takes us on a journey into the bison’s past and shares a compelling vision for its future, offering along the way a valuable introduction to North American prairie ecology.” Read more and purchase on Amazon.
More than any other animal, the bison symbolizes the American West. David Fitzgerald’s stunning photos and Linda Hasselstrom’s moving text present this awesome beast in its ancient and contemporary grandeur. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
Judy Blunt’s memoir tells the story of growing up literally in our project area. She brings to light the reality of life on a ranch in the 20th century: the isolation, the difficulties, and the joys. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
Dan O’Brien chronicles the transition of his ranch, Broken Heart, from cattle ranching to bison ranching. He fluidly ties in history of the Black Hills and ranching, and tells how the restoration of bison to the land brought about a transition in his own life as well. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
A Year in the Life of Pronghorn is natural history at its best, a first-person narrative by zoology professor John A. Byers, told with the grace and agility that have made these four-legged Shelby Cobras famous. (Dan R. Barber, Dallas Morning News) Read more and purchase on Amazon.
“The simplest, most profound, and most helpful of any book I have read on the personal and historical situation of our children, and ourselves, as we move into the twenty-first century.” (Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of the Earth
) Read more and purchase on Amazon.
“Last Stand is a page-turner… I rushed to get through the nail-biting chapters that detail the efforts of Yellowstone’s rangers to prevent poachers from killing the few remaining wild buffalo while they waited for political support from Washington… This is great stuff… the book offers an inspiring message about the possibilities for conservation that can still exist even after all hope seems lost, as long as a few passionate individuals persevere until the general public is swayed.” (NewWest.net) Read more and purchase on Amazon.
“In The Natural West
, Dan Flores asserts that Western environmental history cannot be explained by examining place, culture, or policy alone, but should be understood within the context of a universal human nature. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
Other Favorite Books:These add to your understanding of Great Plains history, conservation history, economics, and the natural world.
As poignant as any romance novel, there’s heartbreak in the failed dreams of the homesteaders, a pang of destiny in the arbitrary way railroad towns were thrown into existence, and inspiration in the heroism of people who’ve fashioned lives for themselves by cobbling together homes from the ruined houses of those who couldn’t make it. Through it all, Raban’s voice examines and honors the vast open expanses of land and pays homage to the histories of families who eked out an existence. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
Crossing Open Ground
is a collection of essays that take the reader from the scene of a beached whale rescue on the Oregon coast to a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. Lopez’s writing is dreamy and spiritual while at the same time addressing environmental issues at the heart. “Through his crystalline vision, Lopez urges us toward a new attitude, a re-enchantment with the world that is vital to our sense of place, our well-being, our very survival.” Read more and purchase on Amazon.
McPhee examines issues at the heart of American conservation by traveling on three trips with the late David Brower, former head of the Sierra Club and life-long advocate for the environment. McPhee joins Brower on visits with a geologist and mining advocate in the West, a resort developer in North Carolina, and a former Interior Secretary and overseer of the Colorado River’s Glen Canyon Dam. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
As fall colors and cooler weather signal winter’s approach, be sure to take the prairie with you as you head indoors. The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark
will keep you company in the kitchen and lead you on your own culinary journey through the journals of Lewis and Clark. From their early feasts in D.C. to creative meals in rugged surroundings, the book explores first-hand food accounts paired with recipes indicative of 19th century cuisine in the wild. Enjoy recipes like hazelnut cornmeal pancakes and Fort Clatsop salmon chowder – and don’t miss out on the lemon meringue pie. As one reviewer states, “Gunderson is probably the world’s only ‘paleo-cuisineologist.’” If you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to try Lewis and Clark’s Portable Soup when you are out camping on the Reserve. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
One of the world’s most important scientists, Edward O. Wilson is also an abundantly talented writer who has twice won the Pulitzer Prize. In this, his most personal and timely book to date, he assesses the precarious state of our environment, examining the mass extinctions occurring in our time and the natural treasures we are about to lose forever. Yet, rather than promoting doomsday prophecies, he spells out a specific plan to save our world while there is still time. His vision is a hopeful one, as economically sound as it is environmentally necessary. Eloquent, practical, and wise, this book should be read and studied by anyone concerned with the fate of the natural world. Wilson is also a member of American Prairie Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
“I am not a naturalist. I never was and never will be a naturalist.” So Edward Abbey opens The Journey Home
, a collection of essays that turns every page or two to some aspect of the natural history of the desert West. The Journey Home
is full of politically charged, often enraged essays on such matters as urban growth (“The Blob Comes to Arizona”), the gentrification of the small-town West (“Telluride Blues — A Hatchet Job”), and wilderness preservation (“Let Us Now Praise Mountain Lions”). (Gregory McNamee) Read more and purchase on Amazon.
The Last Best Place
includes over 230 stories, poems, reminiscences, and reports written by 140 women and men. The book is divided into eight sections, with introductory essays by William Bevis, Mary Blew, William Kittredge, William Lang, Richard Roeder, Annick Smith, and James Welch. This guided tour of Montana’s literature includes Native American stories, autobiographies, journals, fiction, and poetry. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
This alphabetical primer on all things Lewis and Clark is comprehensive but not exhaustive. Both novices and scholars will benefit from the cogent entries, intended “to synthesize the mass of the existing knowledge about the Lewis and Clark expedition into a single unified volume.” Read more and purchase on Amazon.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
is a series of interconnected essays that challenge the listener to contemplate the natural world beyond its commonplace surfaces. “The book is a form of meditation, written with headlong urgency, about seeing. A reader’s heart must go out to a young writer with a sense of wonder so fearless and unbridled… There is an ambition about her book that I like… It is the ambition to feel.” Read more and purchase on Amazon.
Arguing that, if done right, ranching has the power to restore ecological integrity to American western lands, the editors of this book present essays, anecdotes, and a few poems that address the state of the rancher and suggest ways to improve the practice of ranching in view of today’s realities. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
The only constants in nature are change and death. Terry Tempest Williams, a naturalist and writer from northern Utah, has seen her share of both. The pages of Refuge
resound with the deaths from cancer of her mother and other women. Parallel to her account of this devastation, Williams describes changes in bird life at the sanctuaries dotting the shores of the Great Salt Lake as water levels rose during the unusually wet early 1980s and threatened the nesting grounds of dozens of species. In this world of shattered eggs and drowned shorebirds, Williams reckons with the meaning of life, alternating despair and joy. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
This book is a classic of nature writing, widely cited as one of the most influential nature books ever published. In Leopold’s view, it is something of a human duty to preserve as much wild land as possible, as a kind of bank for the biological future of all species. “Beautifully written, quiet, and elegant, Leopold’s book deserves continued study and discussion today.” (Gregory McNamee) Read more and purchase on Amazon.
A biography of Meriwether Lewis that relies heavily on the journals of both Lewis and Clark, this book is also backed up by the author’s personal travels along Lewis and Clark’s route to the Pacific. Ambrose is not content to simply chronicle the events of the “Corps of Discovery,” as the explorers called their ventures; he often pauses to assess the military leadership of Lewis and Clark, how they negotiated with various native peoples, and what they reported to Jefferson. Though the expedition failed to find Jefferson’s hoped-for water route to the Pacific, it fired interest among fur traders and other Americans, changing the face of the West forever. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
The mid-20th-century environmental crisis that led to important protective legislation in the 1970s is, in poet/farmer Wendell Berry’s mind, also a crisis of character, agriculture, and culture. Because Americans are divorced from the land, they mistreat it; because they are divorced from each other, they mistreat those around them. Berry, writing in a prophetic mode, argues that if Americans are to heal the environmental wounds their land has suffered, they will also need to create more meaningful work, sustain happier and healthier lives, and return to what conservatives call “family values.” The Unsettling of America
is a quarter-century old now, but most of its arguments remain current. Read more and purchase on Amazon.
Through personal anecdotes and vivid stories, Beverly Hungry Wolf takes readers into the life of a Blackfoot community in The Ways of My Grandmothers. Using the term “grandmothers” to describe both family position and the larger role of elder women in the tribe, Hungry Wolf communicates a sense of pride in her heritage as she writes from her own experiences and those of her “grandmothers.” The book introduces readers to personal and tribal histories as well as stories and wisdom passed down generationally and examines the different roles and tasks, both modern and traditional, of Blackfeet women. The book is recommended for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the native cultures that shaped the American Prairie Reserve region. – Guest Review by Diane Hargreaves Read more and purchase on Amazon.
In recent years, some policymakers and conservationists have argued that natural resources will be protected only if economic benefits accrue to those who are responsible for caring for the resources. Such commercial consumptive use (CCU) of wild species provides an economically viable alternative to more ecologically destructive land uses, and could help accomplish the overall goals of biodiversity conservation. The outgrowth of a four-year World Wildlife Fund study, the book is both a synthesis of findings and a practical guide. Wild Species as Commodities
provides a primer on the CCU-biodiversity link, and an interdisciplinary analysis of the major economic, social, and ecological factors involved, along with guidelines for incorporating biodiversity conservation into commercial harvesting programs. Freese is also World Wildlife Fund’s Northern Great Plains Program Director, and is on American Prairie Foundation’s Advisory Council. Read more and purchase on Amazon.