A Shape in the Dark: Living and Dying with Brown Bears

Mountaineers. Feb. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9781680513097. pap. $17.95. NAT HIST
Dihle, contributing editor for Alaska Magazine and Hunt Alaska Magazine, has penned a homage to the brown, or grizzly, bear. In this personal account that also offers plenty of scientific detail, he shares how the bear reached the North American continent and documents contacts with explorers, settlers, and mountain men throughout the years. Described encounters with the bears engendered respect, and often didn’t end well for either the men or the bears. The author explains how the bears were all but wiped out in the lower 48 states by bounty hunters to protect loggers and ranchers and their flocks, but conservationists and hunters later worked to protect them. Woven throughout the book are enthralling poetic memories centered on exploring the Alaskan wilderness, observing grizzlies and other wildlife.
VERDICT 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. Suggest to those who enjoyed Down from the Mountain by Bryce Andrews.

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