In A Shape in the Dark, wilderness guide and lifelong Alaskan Bjorn Dihle weaves personal experience with historical and contemporary accounts to explore the world of brown bears – from encounters with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, frightening attacks including the famed death of Timothy Treadwell, the controversies related to bear hunting, the animal's place in native cultures, and the impacts on the species from habitat degradation and climate change. Much more than a report on human-bear interactions, this compelling story intimately explores our relationship with one of the world's most powerful predators. An authentic and thoughtful work, it blends outdoor adventure, history, and elements of memoir to present a mesmerizing portrait of Alaska's brown bears and grizzlies, informed by the species' larger history and their fragile future.
Writer and wilderness and wildlife film guide, Bjorn Dihle is a contributing editor for Alaska Magazine and Hunt Alaska Magazine and has been published in Outdoor Life, Sierra, High Country News, and Birdwatching, among others. He is the author of two books, Haunted Inside Passage: Ghosts, Mysteries, and Legends of Southeast Alaska and Never Cry Halibut: And Other Alaska Hunting and Fishing Tales. A native of Southeast Alaska, he lives on Douglas Island with his family.
"A Shape in the Dark is a page-turner, enhanced by Dihle's intimate knowledge of the coastal Alaskan landscape and its wildlife. It's also a call for action to rediscover Roosevelt's passion for public lands, Peacock's practical empathy for wildlife conservation, and Aldo Leopold's sage acknowledgement that humans are part of the landscape, not removed from it."
– Conor Mihell, Men's Journal
"For hunters, environmentalists and those who want to know more about Alaska's brown bears, this is a memorable portrait and call to save the species for future generations."
– Margaret Bauman, The Cordova Times
"A lyrically written tribute to the grizzly that will appeal to readers who enjoy books about the history of exploration, grizzly bears, and wilderness areas as well as those whose hobbies include hiking, hunting, or learning more about the natural world."
– Library Journal
"Exceptionally well written, impressively informative, and an inherently fascinating read throughout, A Shape in the Dark: Living and Dying with Brown Bears is a unique, extraordinary, and unreservedly recommended addition."
– Midwest Book Review
"Brown bears, in this case, are the means to present an inquiry into his own life of adventure, American environmental history, Alaska's bear people and places, bear mythology and facts, and more. While the book generally addresses the relationship between humans and brown bears, it comes at the topic from a variety of angles chiefly informed by the author's own experience and knowledge."
– Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News
"Guaranteed to have you fascinated all the way through and leave you with new perspectives on one of North America's most captivating wild creatures."
– Zack Williams, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
"Part memoir, part history lesson, A Shape in the Dark crafts a thoughtful portrait of brown bears in Alaska."
– Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska
"[A Shape in the Dark] offers thoughtful, nuanced depictions of human-bear interactions from both centuries ago and the modern day. The book tells a series of bear stories – each chapter is generally self-contained, but past stories are occasionally referenced – that show an evolving understanding."
– Ben Hohenstatt, Juneau Empire
"Approaching nature from a personal perspective, Bjorn Dihle's A Shape in the Dark overturns the media myth of brown bears as vicious, deranged killers, constructing a poignant portrait of the creatures that recognizes their true complexity."
– Foreword Reviews
"A Shape in the Dark is an at times terrifying, but always thoughtful and vivid portrayal of America's storied history with brown bears. You'll find yourself listening for a twig to snap or alder to sway as Bjorn Dihle transports you to another world, one where you are not at the top of the food chain. These tales will stick with you long after you close the book."
– Alex Messenger, author of The Twenty-Ninth Day
"To walk in the land of the mighty grizzly bear is to delve into the wild of our being. Bjorn Dihle takes us on this journey, exploring those who walked before him, and praying that those who follow can discover their own true nature."
– Amy Gulick, author of The Salmon Way: An Alaska State of Mind
"Unflinchingly authentic, intensely personal, artfully told, and deeply moving, A Shape in the Dark ranks as not only one of the best bear books, but one of the greatest Alaska books ever."
– Nick Jans, author of The Grizzly Maze and A Wolf Called Romeo
"With its vivid prose, this moving homage to Alaska and those who live there really hits home."
– Publishers Weekly