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

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9780060897826: Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West

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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About the Author:

Michael Punke lives with his family in Montana. A former partner in a Washington law firm, his diverse professional experience includes work on the White House National Security Council and on Capitol Hill. Punke is the history correspondent for Montana Quarterly magazine and is the author of a novel, The Revenant, about the adventures of a nineteenth-century frontiersman. Punke is also the author of a work of nonfiction, Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917, a finalist for the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award.

From Booklist:

The near extinction of the buffalo herds of the Great Plains in the nineteenth century was the product of several factors, including the greed of buffalo hunters, the callousness of "sportsmen," and the desire of the federal government to deprive the Plains Indians of their food source. But the buffalo did (barely) survive, and one of their unlikely saviors was Grinnell, a Brooklyn-born, Yale-educated anthropologist and naturalist. Grinnell was entranced by the West. He took part in one of the last great buffalo hunts in 1872 and even accompanied Custer on his 1874 Black Hills expedition, which opened this sacred ground to the depredations of gold seekers. But as native westerner Punke shows, his deep interest in and love for the land and the people led him to become an ardent conservationist, forming a surprising alliance with hunters and fishermen that launched a stream of environmental initiatives. As seen by Punke, Grinnell was a major figure in reimagining our wilderness areas as places to be preserved rather than to be "tamed," exploited, and ravaged. Freeman, Jay
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