- Series: Studies in Environment and History
- Paperback: 220 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 15, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521003482
- ISBN-13: 978-0521003483
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920 (Studies in Environment and History)
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From Library Journal
Isenberg (history, Princeton) employs interdisciplinary methodology to explain the ecosocial factors that led to the destruction of 30 million bison during a 50-year period. Tracing the movement of Native American tribes from sedentary cultures to hunting societies that depended upon the horse to hunt bison on the Great Plains, the author discusses the impact of Euroamerican economics on the Native peoples. Fur trading of the 18th century altered Plains culture, as did the 19th-century demand for bison hides. These encounters between Native Americans and Euroamericans were the central cause of the near extinction of the bison. Isenberg also considers other factors such as drought, disease, and the introduction of domestic livestock. This case study of extinction and the preservation of a species will have a wide appeal and correlate with such books as Shepard Krech's The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (LJ 8/99). Recommended for all libraries.
-Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley Coll., Mt. Carmel, IL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Printed Access Code edition.
"Thoroughly researched and well-written, The Destruction of the Bison is an example of modern interdisciplinary scholarship that is not only convincing, analytical, and informative, but also a joy to read. This book will prove valuable to the academic specialist, the student, and the general public." American Studies International
"The Destruction of the Bison is an engaging, well-written, and lucid account of a story that has been told many times, but is only now beginning to be truly understood." Peter S. Alagona, The Professional Geographer
"Isenberg's well-researched and very readable environmental history provides a more compelling explanation that acknowledges the interaction between a dynamic natural environment and the human societies that inhabited it." Economic History
"...elegant....Isenberg has found an impressive array of sources for his history....a detailed, convincing instance of how civilizations expand, it is profoundly instructive." William H. McNeill, The New York Review of Books
"A well-researched, well-documented book, The Destruction of Bison is, best of all, a compelling read. It has a narrative that sweeps the reader through the two hundred pages quickly. The book is, simply, an engrossing history...the book remains one that students, academics, and many adults would learn from and enjoy. The Destruction of Bison would be a good choice for academic libraries as well as for many public library collections. Highly recommended." E-Streams
"This case study of extinction and the preservation of a species will have a wide appeal and correlate with such books as Shepard Krech's The Ecological Indian: Myth and History. Recommended for all libraries." Library Journal
"To be filed in this month's don't-judge-a-book-by-its title category....[Isenberg's] impassioned first book is much more than an ecological history of American wildlife." Publisher's Weekly
"The book works well as a teaching tool: it reveals complex causation while maintaining clarity and readability. As enviornmental history, the book is extremely satisfying...Isenberg appreciates the dynamism of culture, economy, and environment on the Plains. His treatment of Indian experiences, though overgeneralized, is still subtle and complex." Emily Greenwald, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"The Destruction of the Bison is certain to stimulate discussion of its author's conclusions and likely to remain a standard work of enviromental history for years to come." William A. Dobak The National Archives Washington, DC
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Basically, it is like blaming Africans for slavery because some blacks helped capture other blacks from different tribes. This wouldn't fly in other disciplines or historical studies but because Native Americans have been barred from giving their side, the implied racism of Flores and Isenberg's accounts go unchecked.
We must ask questions. Why does Isenberg feel the need to "revise" history to place more blame on Native Americans? He uses fashionable jargon about "giving them 'agency'". This is nonsense, utterly. They had their agency taken away. He also fails to mention that out of the 5 ranchers that were documented to have "saved" the buffalo/bison from extinction, 2 of them were Native. The standard and most accurate histories of the Bison is still Roe's 1951 account. Dan Flores, the historian who started the "blame Indians for killing the Bison", clearly and obviously had an agenda and a resentment of Native Americans. This "environmental" history, for the neocon historian like Isenberg or Flores, becomes an excuse to push nothing but an agenda in veiled terms and, in doing so, to ignore social, political, and economic factors. I am frankly appalled this kind of history gets written and taken seriously and that institutions like Princeton hire people like Isenberg. They clearly do not question his motives or methods. Do yourself a favor, skip this book and read more recent accounts
or read David Smits' response to Dan Flores:
Initially, the Natives hunted for subsistence but later were drawn into the market-oriented economic system and were trading the bison's skin for other European products. Gradually, bison became nearly decimated.
This is an incredible book in this survey of the history of the North American bison population and is very well-written. He organizes this book well and is very readable. Even if readers who do not have prior knowledge of bison or is unfamiliar with the field of environmental history, this book will not pose any difficulty for understanding the complex relationship between human and the environment around them.
Most recent customer reviews
The central argument of this book is that:
"The combination of Indian...Read more