For the last twenty years, The Destruction of the Bison has been an essential work in environmental history. Andrew C. Isenberg offers a concise analysis of the near-extinction of the North American bison population from an estimated 30 million in 1800 to fewer than 1000 a century later. His wide-ranging, interdisciplinary study carefully considers the multiple causes, cultural and ecological, of the destruction of the species. The twentieth-anniversary edition includes a new foreword connecting this seminal work to developments in the field – notably new perspectives in Native American history and the rise of transnational history – and placing the story of the bison in global context. A new afterword extends the study to the twenty-first century, underlining the continued importance of this ground-breaking text for current, and future, students and scholars.
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 returns of the bison
Andrew C. Isenberg is the Hall Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Kansas. An environmental historian specializing in the North American West, he is the co-author of The Republican Reversal: Conservatives and the Environment from Nixon to Trump (2018) and the author of Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life (2013) and Mining California: An Ecological History (2005).
"The Destruction of the Bison is one of those very rare books that manage to be the definite work on a subject and simultaneously profoundly change how we understand that subject. No one can write about the destruction of America's national mammal – and the peoples who exploited and cared for it – without engaging with Andrew Isenberg's bold masterwork."
– Pekka Hämäläinen, University of Oxford
"In the nineteenth century, in the short span of a few decades, the great bison herds that defined the Plains for thousands of years almost disappeared. No book illuminates the causes and consequences of that fateful development so eloquently or concisely as Drew Isenberg's essential, classic study, The Destruction of the Bison."
– Louis S. Warren, University of California, Davis
"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