The blue bear: a true story of friendship, tragedy, and survival in the Alaskan wilderness

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9780091794095: The blue bear: a true story of friendship, tragedy, and survival in the Alaskan wilderness

With a body twisted by adolescent scoliosis and memories of the brutal death of a woman he loved, Lynn Schooler kept the world at arm's length, drifting through the wilds of Alaska as a commercial fisherman, outdoorsman, and wilderness guide. In 1990, Schooler met Japanese photographer Michio Hoshino, and began a profound friendship cemented by a shared love of adventure and a passionate quest to find the elusive glacier bear, an exceedingly rare creature, seldom seen and shrouded in legend. But only after Hoshino's tragic death from a bear attack does Schooler succeed in photographing the animal -- completing a remarkable journey that ultimately brings new meaning to his life.

The Blue Bear is an unforgettable book. Set amid the wild archipelagoes, deep glittering fjords, and dense primordial forests of Alaska's Glacier Coast, it is rich with the lyric sensibility and stunning prose of such nature classics as Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams and Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard.

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Review:

"People step into the [Alaskan] landscape and vanish without a trace," writes wildlife guide Lynn Schooler in this ode to the wild beauty of the Alaskan coast, an unusual friendship, and a mysterious bear with fur the color of "burnished metal." Schooler spent a decade searching for the elusive blue (or glacier) bear with Michio Hoshino, Japan's preeminent wildlife photographer. Hoshino was a gentle genius who would sit still for hours, his face swelling from mosquito bites, for the perfect photograph, and who had the same patience and consideration for a bruised heart like Schooler's. Schooler had lost all ability to trust, scarred first by the scorn of classmates for his twisted body and finally by the brutal murder of the woman he loved. But as a guide--both for wildlife photographers and for readers of this evocative and gracefully composed memoir--Schooler richly reveals the place that sustains him. He makes remarkable connections between whales and the complex workings of old-growth forests, between glaciers dropping 100-foot columns of ice into waiting fjords, and the breathing of the planet. Ultimately, though, it is Hoshino's death by a bear that finally enables Schooler to make peace with humanity and death. A quiet, profound gem. --Lesley Reed

About the Author:

Lynn Schooler, author of The Blue Bear, has lived in Alaska for more than thirty years. He is a two-time winner of Alaska magazine's grand prize for wildlife photography and winner of the National Wildlife grand prize.

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