I finished Steven Rinella’s American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon over the weekend. It’s an engaging history of the animal, it’s place within our country’s history, and the tale of a nature lover and avid hunter.
Rinella, who has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Men’s Journal, and Field and Stream, received a permit to hunt for a wild buffalo in the Alaskan wilderness. While describing his quest, he also details the up-and-down fortunes of the animal throughout the centuries.
There are a few scenes that might make some people squeamish, so be warned if you’re inclined to not think about where your food comes from. But the overall tone of the book is about the love of nature and history of an iconic creature. My main complaint isn’t about any discussion of butchery, but rather the photos included in the text. They’re small images, printed in black and white. While I certainly understand the cost involved with doing larger, full-color photos, given the tremendous scenery and views in Alaska, it would have been nice to have something other than small, grainy pictures. But that’s a small criticism since the book is largely successful otherwise.
Galley Cat had a recap of the last week’s release party for American Buffalo. I spoke with a literary agent who attended that party and said it was a great event for a fine book.