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The Destruction of the Bison, first published in 2000, explains the decline of the North American bison population from an estimated 30 million in 1800 to fewer than a thousand a century later. In this wide-ranging, interdisciplinary study, Andrew C. Isenberg argues that the cultural and ecological encounter between Native Americans and Euroamericans in the Great Plains was the central cause of the near-extinction of the bison. Cultural and ecological interactions created new types of bison hunters on both sides of the encounter: mounted Indian nomads and Euroamerican industrial hidemen. Together with environmental pressures these hunters nearly extinguished the bison. In the early twentieth century, nostalgia about the very cultural strife which first threatened the bison became, ironically, an important impetus to its preservation.
1. The grassland environment
2. The genesis of the Nomads
3. The Nomadic experiment
4. The ascendancy of the market
5. The wild and the tamed
6. The return of the bison
Andrew C. Isenberg is Professor of History at Temple University. Isenberg's research interests include environmental history, the history of the North American West, the United States from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, and the encounter between Euroamericans and natives. He is the author of Mining California: An Ecological History (2005) and the editor of The Nature of Cities: Culture, Landscape, and Urban Space (2006).
"This case study of extinction and the preservation of a species will have a wide appeal."
- Library Journal
"Andrew Isenberg's The Destruction of the Bison [...] a fascinating tale not least that of the bison's last-minute preservation."
- New Scientist
"To be filed in this month's don't-judge-a-book-by-its-title category [...] [Isenberg's] impassioned first book is much more than an ecological history of American wildlife."
- Publisher's Weekly