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American Buffalo

American Buffalo: In search of a lost icon

Steven Rinella

In 2005, Steven Rinella won a lottery permit to hunt for a single wild buffalo in the Alaskan wilderness. Despite the odds, Rinella managed to kill a buffalo on a snow-covered mountainside and then raft the meat back to civilisation while being trailed by grizzly bears and suffering from hypothermia.

American Buffalo is the story of Rinella’s hunt. But beyond that, it is a chronicle of the many ways in which the buffalo has shaped American identity. Rinella takes us across the continent in search of the buffalo’s past, present, and future: from buffalo jumps where Native Americans once ran buffalo over cliffs by the thousands to an abattoir turned fashion mecca in Manhattan, where a depressed buffalo named Black Diamond met his fate after serving as the model for the American nickel.

Rinella is the perfect guide for a book that combines outdoor adventure with a blend of facts and observations about history, biology, and the natural world. American Buffalo is both a captivating narrative and a book of environmental and historical significance.

Steven Rinella
About the Author

Steven Rinella is the author of The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and a correspondent for Outside magazine. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Field and Stream, Men’s Journal, Bowhunter and Flyfisherman, and the anthologies Best American Travel Writing and Best Food Writing. Steven divides his time between New...

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288 pp
Text publication date:
29 June 2009
AU Price:
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Praise for Steven Rinella
andAmerican Buffalo

‘Rinella writes well, with a good eye for detail…His blend of natural history, popular culture, and the outdoor adventure of the hunt is a winner.’

‘Much more than the story of one man, his gun and a wild buffalo. On one level it is a cornucopia of buffalo history and trivia…But on another level it is an engrossing yarn about travelling through the Alaskan wilderness in a light aeroplane and then by car, raft and on foot. Rinella is a great writer and his descriptions of rafting down the Klutina River, being caught in a snowstorm, trying to clamber through dense stands of alder trees, fording fast-flowing and icy rivers, climbing on the edge of cliffs and glaciers, avoiding wolves, grizzly bears and black bears are evocative and passionate. The result is a fascinating insight into the travails of a modern-day hunter. When Rinella is left alone…his time in the wilderness and his difficulty in transporting the buffalo meat back to civilisation give the final chapters of the story an elegiac, lonely and powerful sense of humanity at its most primal and brutal.’

‘It’s a great book for armchair adventurers…It’s also a great book for hypocritical urban carnivores who turn up their nose at the idea of killing animals for fun. You may not go off to buy a gun and a pair of waders, but Rinella makes you feel the romance of it all, and does so in a laid-back, contemporary voice, free of Marlboro Man clichés.’

‘The most promising debut by a nature writer in years. Wittily deadpan, lean and muscular in his prose and splendidly attuned to oddities, Steven Rinella has composed a hymn to a complicated, long-standing human-animal relationship without an ounce of sentimentality…Whatever your take on the politics of shooting and eating animals, Rinella’s complex weave of guilt and pride, of understanding and qualified embrace of historical necessity, make this book an education not just in what we put in our mouths but in why and how people like and unlike us have done so—a lesson for the head, the heart and the stomach.’