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Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia Hardcover – December 1, 2003

16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bodio offers insightful, heartfelt, and often humorous observations of the inhabitants and the landscapes of Mongolia. Recommended for all public and academic libraries."-- Library Journal


"I always look forward to reading a new book by Stephen Bodio, and this latest work is no disappointment. Besides being an excellent birder and all-around naturalist, Bodio is a keen observer of human nature and culture. His curiosity is boundless, as is his openness to new experiences."--Living Bird

From the Back Cover

When Stephen Bodio was a young boy in the early fifties he saw an image in National Geographic which became forever etched in his mind: It was a photograph of a Kazakh nomad, dressed in a long coat and wearing a fur hat, holding a huge eagle on his fist. Thus began his fascination with East Asia and with the culture that hunts, not eagles, but with eagles.
Mongolia, a vast country located between Siberia and China and little known to outsiders, was long under Soviet domination and inaccessible to westerners. When it became independent in 1990, Bodio began planning a pilgrimage to see if the eagle hunters of "The Picture" had survived. A lifelong falconer himself, he longed to visit the birth place of falconry and observe the traditions that had survived intact through the ages. His fantasy was realized when he traveled independently to the westernmost region of Mongolia and spent months with the people and birds of his dreams. In Eagle Dreams, Bodio gives life to his dreams and the people, landscapes, and animals of Mongolia that have become part of his soul.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592282075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592282074
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,338,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Bodio was born in Boston in 1950. He studied Biology and English literature for years at both Universities of Massachusetts without ever quite managing to get his degree. He has lived in a remote rural village in New Mexico for over thirty years, and has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, and especially Asia.

He has published nine books, and has been editor and anthologist of more, as well as a frequent contributor to magazines. He has been on the masthead of publications as various as the scholarly English Literary Renaissance and the upscale outdoor magazine Gray's Sporting Journal, where he wrote a book column for eleven years. He has reviewed everything from novels to natural history for many papers, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the (London) Times Literary Supplement. His articles, essays, and stories have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, and the LA Times Magazine, and in literary quarterlies. He is now a contributing editor and book columnist for the magazine Living Bird.

He was recruited by Annie Proulx to be the first resident faculty member at Sterling College's Wildbranch Writers Workshop in Vermont, where he taught for nine years. His 2003 book, Eagle Dreams, was about his adventures with the Kazakh horsemen of Mongolia. An excerpt, published in the Atlantic, was included in Frances Mayes' anthology Best American Travel Writing.

He has a lifelong interest in birds, their behavior, and their relations with humans, as reflected in his books on falcons and pigeons. He has hunted with falcons for almost fifty years, kept rare pigeon breeds, and has bred and trained saluki dogs and their Asian relatives for thirty. He assisted retired Russian scientist and dog expert Vladimir Beregovoy with his translation of a 19th century Russian hunter's memoir, Notes of an East Siberian Hunter.

Since then he has written An Eternity of Eagles, a profusely illustrated volume he describes as "a natural and social history of all the many kinds of eagles, their evolution, diversity and habits; eagles as birds, as rivals, as artistic and religious symbols; our relations with them, friendly and unfriendly, from falconry to shooting them from planes." He has also contributed text and introductions to many works about and by artists, including Alan James Robinson, Thomas Quinn, Vadim Gorbatov, and Thomas Aquinas Daly.

Bodio's most recently written book, not counting editorial work, is what he calls a "Book of books". Titled A Sportsman's Library, and accurately subtitled "100 Essential, Engaging, Offbeat, and Occasionally Odd Fishing and Hunting Books For the Adventurous Reader", it contains a falconry manual by a medieval emperor, a how- to fly- fish comic book, a seventeenth century poem on wingshooting, and the autobiography of a rat hunter. Well- known writers-- Karen Blixen, Hemingway, Ted Hughes, T H White--share space with many lesser known, undeservedly forgotten, or just strange ones; Brian Plummer (Tales of a Rat Hunting Man) ; Theresa Maggio (Mattanza); Geoffrey Household (Dance of the Dwarfs), and both Setons. And of course, 88 more. Bodio claims he can easily find another hundred, and will.

Five of his backlist are being reprinted by Skyhorse Press, two last year and three in 2015, with wonderful new covers, and intros by people he says are "younger, smarter, and better looking than I am, not to mention more successful!" Among them are : Querencia, Aloft, On the Edge of the Wild, Eagle Dreams, and A Rage for Falcons.

Another Asian book, with the working title The Hounds of Heaven, is next. About his travels in Kazakhstan where he found his dogs, the ancient saluki- like "tazis " of Central Asia, it will have plenty of science and history as well as travelers' tales; topics as far afield as the age and his interpretations of rock art of steppes and the trouble with closed studbooks for dogs will likely stir up controversy.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease almost five years ago, but he hasn't stopped moving yet. He has made a video with the UNM Neurology department, A Patient's Story, to highlight the advances in treatment for such diseases. If possible, more Asian books, including a collaboration with his photographer stepson on centuries of western travelers in the Szechuan- Tibetan border country, are in the pipeline, as is a memoir. Meanwhile he still lives in Magdalena, a former cattle drive town in the mountains of southern New Mexico, with his wife, Elizabeth (Libby) Adam Frishman, a second- generation mountaineer, paleoarchaeologist, and former Outward Bound trekking guide.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Matthew L. Miller on January 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was a junior in college when my dad sent me a copy of a new magazine he had started receiving at home called Gray's Sporting Journal. An English student and avid sportsman, I turned immediately to the book review section. Typically, I did not expect much from a sporting magazine's book review; seldom did these reviews actually convey much critical information.
This was the first time I read Steve Bodio's by-line. I read his review column, then went back and read it again, and again. In three pages, I knew this was a writer that deserved my attention. In fact, I had never read anyone who so passionately loved books and the sporting life, and who also wrote about those passions so beautifully. As Bodio himself once wrote about another writer: "He's THAT good."
Steve Bodio is a cult writer, a characterization I once heard Bodio himself acknowledge. Those of us who make up this cult cannot figure out why he isn't better known. Quite possibly it is because he is a naturalist who remains an unapologetic hunter, a hunter who would rather discuss natural history than the latest camouflage pattern, and a writer who ignores current fashions and writes about subjects like falconry, pigeons, catfish and wild freedom.
This latest book, on Mongolia, is a wonderful travel book that one hopes will introduce Bodio to a new and expanded readership. "Eagle Dreams" traces Bodio's fascination with the eagle hunters of Mongolia to the realization of the dream during the course of two trips.
Calling "Eagle Dreams" a travel book is perhaps unfair; it is not easily placed into a neat category. It is a travel book, a sporting book, a nature book, a "sense of place" book-but none of those categories convey its real spirit.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
EAGLE DREAMS is an excellent corrective to all those gonzo travel books whose writers always seem to be in a state of adrenalin overdrive. While reading it, I actually learned about Mongolia; how to get around, how to use the not necessarily user-friendly (at least to a Westerner) Mongolian lavatories, and much, much else. Indeed, it's one of the few recent travel books (of course, it's more than just a travel book) I've read where I didn't feel the author was faking it -- i.e., making up many of his adventures. Integrity seems to be Bodio's middle name. Highly recommended!!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Muriel Fowkes on December 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Stephen J. Bodio's Eagle Dreams is one of the best books I've ever read. By turns lyrically poetic, hilariously funny, dramatic, touching, and inspiring, this book is travel writing at its very best. Most authors cannot approach Bodio in terms of talent, in the way his masterful prose brings scenes and people (in this case, the wilds of Mongolia and the tribesmen who hunt with golden eagles) to life and puts the reader in the middle of the action. Fascinating, exotic story, beautifully told. Buy this book!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has ever been obsessed by an obscure, exotic subject will understand how Mr. Bodio's only means of satisfying his curiosity about eagle hunters was to go to Asia and experience eagle hunting for himself. This book is an antidote to the detatched, 'snarky', belittling travel writing which has lately infected adventure magazines and travel literature generally. Bodio clearly went to Mongolia desiring to learn as much as possible, and to delight in the local culture. His portrait of the eagle hunters is surprisingly optimistic, full of confidence that strange, archaic traditions can still thrive in the modern world. If you have ever fantasized about rediscovering lost arts in forgotten corners of the earth, or about having a mighty bird at your beck and call, then this book will contain much to delight you.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Wilding on March 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't hunt or fish or tramp around in the wilderness but, despite that, I was entranced by this book - couldn't put it down. To me, it's a story of how one person, in this case a brilliant and engaging writer, managed to achieve a dream he'd held since childhood. Bodio is such a fine (and funny!) storyteller that he makes one of the world's most exotic places accessible without making it a bit less exotic. Hunting with eagles in Mongolia doesn't have to be your dream for this book to be one you'll treasure, just like you didn't have to fish for trout to love "A River Runs Through It." I highly recommend this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I just finished Steve Bodio's great book, Eagle Dreams. I was swept away by his vivid word imagery to a "time" and a place that is all too hard to find in the modern world. Bodio instinctively understands the people, the culture, and the animals without the sanitized pap that is all too prevalent in adventure books. The similarities between present-day Mongolian Eagle Hunters and the Plains Indians of the l800s are remarkable. In both cultures, the Eagle has an important spiritual significance.
Jack Kerouac wrote "Sometimes it is necessary to put up with dust and rattlesnakes for the sake of pure freedom." Bodio's book oozes freedom. "Eagle Dreams" should be required reading for all undergraduate anthropology majors. If you only buy one adventure book this year, this should be it.
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