Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America

Hachette Audio. Dec. 2022. 12:38 hrs. ISBN 9781549162848. $31.99. NAT HIST
Philip (English and environmental studies, Coll. of the Holy Cross; A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family) waded into researching beavers by visiting ponds and streams to understand the semiaquatic rodents that have an outsized role in the history of the United States. As hardworking as her subjects, Philip met fur trappers, attended a fur auction, and accompanied scientists studying watersheds; she also visited Beaversprite, a sanctuary founded by “beaver lady” Dorothy Richards. Philip recounts Indigenous peoples’ stories and follows the economic impact of the fur trade when the well-appointed wore beaver fur hats. Though they are often seen as pests, nature’s engineers are building and maintaining structures that are now touted as money-saving alternatives to human-designed water-retention projects. These projects can cost as much as $2 million per pond but are free in places where humans choose to coexist with beavers. Narrator Christine Lakin gives listeners a fly-on-the-wall view of Philip’s research and expertly paces this encompassing work.
VERDICT This impressively researched work with engaging narration is perfect for libraries with patrons interested in science, history, climate change, and ecology.
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