- Hardcover: 266 pages
- Publisher: Heyday (October 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1890771708
- ISBN-13: 978-1890771706
- Product Dimensions: 10 x 1 x 11.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bear in Mind: The California Grizzly Hardcover – October 1, 2003
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''...An absolutely wonderful book.''-- John Nielsen, National Public Radio Environment Correspondent
''One feels a strange combination of grief and exhilaration in this book--so powerfully vivid are the stories and pictures...''-- Thomas McNamee, author of Grizzly Bear and The Return of the Wolf to Yellowstone
''Bear in Mind is... a delightful experience in reading ...[This book is] often surprising, and sometimes hauntingly moving.'' --Richard Brenneman, Berkeley Daily Planet
From the Publisher
Published in conjunction with the Bancroft Library.
Top customer reviews
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This is the first coffee table book I've ever bought. I discovered it when a friend borrowed it from the Sausalito Library and I couldn't put it down. I've now ordered my own copy from Amazon.
The book consists of paintings, illustrations, photos, and copies of original newspapers and manuscripts, accompanied by text from original sources from the days when California was Mexican to the 20th century. The illustrations alone would make this a memorable book, but the text is what makes it useful and really interesting for me.
It shows not just evolving attitudes towards grizzlies, but also a rapidly evolving society and the impact of technological change. In the early days, we read about young California Indians going out in groups of four or five, carrying bows and arrows, to hunt grizzlies, as a sort of tag team, in which all the men except one conceal themselves. The one man in the open shoots an arrow at the bear and then runs, letting the bear chase him, until the man goes into hiding and another man fires an arrow at the bear and runs away with the bear in pursuit. This continues until the bear is too wounded and too tired to continue.
After Mexicans occupied much of the land, grizzly hunting changed to several young men lassoing the beast. It's fascinating to read about a California so different than the one I live in today, a time when encounters with grizzlies were common and young men took pride in their abilities to vanquish the beast.
As the 19th century proceeds, however, something changes. Part of it is technological change, which produces guns that are much more effective for killing grizzlies. Partly it's also the flood of settlers into back country. California Indians had revered and coexisted with these beasts, Mexicans saw them as sport but it still took several brave and skilled young men to lasso them. But as the century wore on, the need for more land that was safe for settlers combined with the more powerful guns becoming available slowly changed grizzly hunting into more of a grizzly slaughter and events became popular in which bears were pitted against bulls in a fight to the death.
The book concludes with the usage of the bear as a symbol in California history, ranging from the Bear Flag revolt to a bear as the U.C. Berkeley mascot.
This is a fascinating book. I've just touched on the surface in this review. If you want to get a taste of how life was lived here in the 19th century and earlier, this is a great resource. The book fortunately has an index. Each quote in the text, which can be several pages long, cites the source at the end of the quote.
This is a book you will want to keep coming back to. I highly recommend it.
This book is jointly published by the U.C Berkeley Bancroft Library and Heyday Books, located in Berkeley. Heyday publishes excellent books about California Indian history and also the respected magazine "News from Native California". I highly recommend them. This is the second Heyday book that I've reviewed for Amazon. I have many more in my library. When time permits, I'll review more of them.
First into the country from the east were mountain men, trappers in the Rockies and elsewhere who hunted out beavers. They began to settle in California in the 1830s. They brought with them the art of killing grizzlies which they turned into a trade supplying meat to miners who came in larger numbers after 1848. Miners intruded into grizzly country and slaughtered the bears out of fear and for vittals. It is shameful history full of braggadocio, heroically killing bears with knives etc. The books gives excerpt after excerpt of these gruesome deeds. There is almost no respect for the bears as wild beings or concern for their place in nature. It is really too much. Besides as a historical resource, who would want to read of all the brutality. I had a hard time. It is so unrelelenting.
Then there came the dancing bears. Tamed brown bears go back maybe thousands of years in Europe and maybe China too. The Romans had their menageries and brown bears lived across northern, Old World. Wretched, muzzled bears on chains were familiar in Medieval Europe. The Spanish who fought bulls relished bear combat. The epitome of dancing bears in California comes with Grizzly Adams. His menagerie included many grizzlies whom he could mostly control, eventually dying of wounds received from the bears. He sold his menagerie to P.T. Barnum. How is one to think about Adams' relationship to his wild captives. Certainly he was able to tame them. If the SPCA were to have walked into his basement zoo in San Francisco would they have been horrified or was Adam's actually able to establish rapport with his beasts that had something redeeming to it. I don't know. Timothy Treadwell, the Grizzly Man, (The Grizzly Maze: Timothy Treadwell's Fatal Obsession with Alaskan Bears)had an extraordinary relationship with bears in the wild until he stepped across a subtle species boundary and a bear killed him and his girlfriend. Treadwell coexisted with his bears in their habitat. Adams subdued his. I am not sure how.
The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley has extraordinary documents and I should be thankful to the editor of this tome for exhibiting this slice of history. But the book is very upsetting and I had to put it down from time to time because I could not take the seeming unconscious cruelty of humans towards the wild. Of course, we do the same to each other.
Charlie Fisher author of Dismantling Discontent: Buddha's Way Through Darwin's World