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Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle…
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Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the… (utgåvan 2007)

av Michael Punke

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
623326,246 (4.06)4
THE EPIC TRUE STORY OF THE AMERICAN BUFFALO--BY MICHAEL PUNKE, THE AUTHOR OF THE REVENANT, NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING LEONARDO DICAPRIO In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, an American buffalo herd once numbering 30 million animals was reduced to twelve. It was the era of Manifest Destiny, a Gilded Age that treated the West as nothing more than a treasure chest of resources to be dug up or shot down. The buffalo in this world was a commodity, hounded by legions of swashbucklers and unemployed veterans seeking to make their fortunes. Supporting these hide hunters, even buying their ammunition, was the U.S. Army, which considered the eradication of the buffalo essential to victory in its ongoing war on Native Americans. Into that maelstrom rode young George Bird Grinnell. A scientist and a journalist, a hunter and a conservationist, Grinnell would lead the battle to save the buffalo from extinction. Fighting in the pages of magazines, in Washington's halls of power, and in the frozen valleys of Yellowstone, Grinnell and his allies sought to preserve an icon from the grinding appetite of Robber Baron America. Grinnell shared his adventures with some of the greatest and most infamous characters of the American West--from John James Audubon and Buffalo Bill to George Armstrong Custer and Theodore Roosevelt (Grinnell's friend and ally). A strikingly contemporary story, the saga of Grinnell and the buffalo was the first national battle over the environment. In Grinnell's legacy is the birth of the conservation movement as a potent political force.… (mer)
Medlem:jcecil
Titel:Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West
Författare:Michael Punke
Info:Collins (2007), Hardcover
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West av Michael Punke

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A wonderfully written book on a topic that is probably not well known to most people. With the life of George Bird Grinnell as the vehicle, this book explores the death of the old west, the rise of the conservation movement, and the campaign to save the last herds of wild Buffalo.

At its peak the population of wild Buffalo in America ranged as high as 30 million individuals. In the course of 40 years that population had dwindled to little over 1,000. For Native Americans the Buffalo was the primary source of sustenance. For the United States Army, killing the Buffalo was a way to resolve the “Indian problem.” Add to that unchecked hunting of Buffalo for hides, robes and as decorative accouterments for Gilded Age homes, and there was no way it could survive the onslaught. It was only through the efforts of a handful of men that the last remaining individuals were saved.

George Bird Grinnell is probably someone who should be more well known. A central figure of the early conservation movement, he played a pivotal role as owner and editor of Forest and Stream magazine, lobbying for and finally achieving protections for Yellowstone National park and the remaining wild Buffalo that lived within its borders. That herd which had dwindled to only 23 by the early 20th century, now numbers about 4000 thanks to Grinnell and those he was able to enlist in his cause, including Theodore Roosevelt.

A scion of a wealthy family, his father became wealthy providing financial services to some of the great barons of the Gilded Age. Escaping that life through the influence of one of his college professors, Grinnell made several trips west on various expeditions were he interacted with many of the west’s most famous figures, including George Armstrong Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody. It was through these experiences, as well as the tutelage of Lucy Audubon, (John J. Audubon’s widow), that Grinnell developed a love of the west, and an ethic of self sacrifice.

The author made an excellent choice focusing on Grinnell because he represents in one man the transition from the conspicuous consumption and lust for wealth that characterized the Gilded Age, to an ethic that demanded America’s natural and cultural heritage be preserved even if it meant the sacrifice of profit – something we should be paying attention to today.

Though perhaps not intended by the author, this work should be regarded as a cautionary tale, as in many ways we are witnessing a return to the Gilded Age ethic that nearly destroyed our natural heritage and completed the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. As we witness rollbacks in protection for the environment, denial of the effects of man made climate change, and a return to the mindset that the earth and its resources are here only to enrich us monetarily, we are forgetting the lessens learned by such short sighted behavior only 100 years ago.

I’m not all that familiar with the history surrounding the birth of the conservation movement or of the rise of the new west, so I cannot comment with any authority on the accuracy of everything in this book. I have seen comments that point to some inaccuracies. However, I have not seen any criticism of its value as a popular work of history, or that these few inaccuracies detract from the power of its message.

Highly recommended! ( )
1 rösta mybucketlistofbooks | Jan 10, 2015 |
"Last Stand" by Michael Punke is powerful account of the opening of American West -- and the rapid destruction of that frontier.

The story opens with a bang; Punke leads with a chilling account of a hunter killing 107 buffalo without leaving his stand, setting the stage for his engaging narrative about the death of the American west.

A better story than most of the fiction I’ve read, Punke’s book is set in the late 1800s, and revolves around George Bird Grinnell – a man largely responsible for the conservation of much of the American west, but whom remains mostly unknown today.

Opposing him were all the usual suspects: short-sightedness, a belief that the frontier was infinite, a desire to deal with the “Indian problem,” commercial interests, and of course, naked greed.

Punke does a commendable job of weaving together the myriad storylines affecting the west, connecting threads from Lewis & Clark to Custer to Bird’s battle against congressional inaction in the face of a strong railroad lobby.

George Bird – editor of Forest and Stream magazine – was an early convert to the cause of preserving the American west, and the climax of the book details his last-ditch efforts to preserve the handful of remaining buffalo.

With the help of a US Army Captain fighting a wave of poachers in the park, Bird marshaled his few allies in congress, beat back the railroad lobby (who wanted half of Yellowstone for their own use), and finally – with the help of an outraged public – succeeded in legislating protections against poaching in the National Parks.

The rapid decimation of the buffalo herds is a recurring (and distressing) theme in Punke’s book:

“The numbers paint the stark picture at the end. In 1882, the Northern Pacific Railroad alone shipped 200,000 hides to eastern processing facilities, an amount that filled an estimated 700 boxcars. In 1883, the railroad shipped 40,000 hides. In 1884, the total harvest fit in a single boxcar, and according to a Northern Pacific official, ‘it was the last shipment ever made.’”

Punke even details the lamentable efforts by many hunters to be the “last to kill a wild buffalo.”

By 1902, the US Army estimated that only 23 wild buffalo remained alive in Yellowstone National Park – the pitiful remnants of the massive herds that once blanketed America.

It’s impossible to read Last Stand without drawing some parallels to the perils facing today’s parks and wilderness areas – privatization, commercialization, and how to preserve wild game stocks in the face of encroaching domestic stocks.

Today, of course, the Old West is long gone, and the landscape surrounding Yellowstone National Park is populated with cattle, ranches, seasonal towns and hordes of automobile-bound tourists.

It’s all the more reason to read Punke’s interesting and compelling book, and anyone who has ever read an account of the Lewis & Clark expedition will likely find Last Stand an outstanding read. ( )
1 rösta TCWriter | Mar 31, 2013 |
This is actually I book which I read for work. A great book in order to learn about the history of the American bison. At times it seemed like I was reading a lot of dates etc, hence the four stars. I enjoyed it quite a bit though, and it's very informative and educational ( )
  lizpatanders | Apr 4, 2011 |
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THE EPIC TRUE STORY OF THE AMERICAN BUFFALO--BY MICHAEL PUNKE, THE AUTHOR OF THE REVENANT, NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING LEONARDO DICAPRIO In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, an American buffalo herd once numbering 30 million animals was reduced to twelve. It was the era of Manifest Destiny, a Gilded Age that treated the West as nothing more than a treasure chest of resources to be dug up or shot down. The buffalo in this world was a commodity, hounded by legions of swashbucklers and unemployed veterans seeking to make their fortunes. Supporting these hide hunters, even buying their ammunition, was the U.S. Army, which considered the eradication of the buffalo essential to victory in its ongoing war on Native Americans. Into that maelstrom rode young George Bird Grinnell. A scientist and a journalist, a hunter and a conservationist, Grinnell would lead the battle to save the buffalo from extinction. Fighting in the pages of magazines, in Washington's halls of power, and in the frozen valleys of Yellowstone, Grinnell and his allies sought to preserve an icon from the grinding appetite of Robber Baron America. Grinnell shared his adventures with some of the greatest and most infamous characters of the American West--from John James Audubon and Buffalo Bill to George Armstrong Custer and Theodore Roosevelt (Grinnell's friend and ally). A strikingly contemporary story, the saga of Grinnell and the buffalo was the first national battle over the environment. In Grinnell's legacy is the birth of the conservation movement as a potent political force.

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