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Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia Hardcover – December 1, 2003
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From the Back Cover
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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Top Customer Reviews
Having visited the western Mongolian Kazakhs Bodio writes about I found them every bit as warm, generous, gracious and as good-humored as he describes them. I found their imbalanced diet consisting solely of meat and dairy pitiable and contrary to Bodio's depiction, very hard on their health. Nobody living the traditional Kazakh nomad lifestyle that we met in Western Mongolia seemed to live much past sixty. All of the eagle hunters that were in their forties and fifties when Bodio's book was published in 2003 were already dead of natural causes according to the locals who knew and recognized them from the photos in the book. My twenty-four year old guide confessed a bad case of hemorrhoids and the 34 year old son of our host family inside Altai Tavan Bogd was being treated for cancer. He was one of the many cancer stories we heard while in western Mongolia. While I am not even close to being a doctor I have read enough and know enough about basic nutrition to have no doubts concerning the root cause of the Kazakh's health ailments: A diet consisting solely of meat and dairy devoid of any source of fiber or vegetables. The Mongolian Kazakh's freedom, close family units and their ancient yet intact cultural traditions were enviable, their diet while perhaps a product of necessity as well as culture was another matter altogether and undeserving of being romanticized by anyone in the 21st century. I found the Kazakh's food situation in the remote western corner of the country sad and depressing, but I suppose an endless meat and cheese buffet beats the hell out of going hungry in a very cold, hard land. Definitely visit the western Mongolian Kazakhs if you ever get the chance, they are incredible, but bring some Metamucil and dehydrated vegan chili. Your gut will thank you. Bodio's advice concerning vodka and other practical topics is solid however. Bring a good bit with you and use it to wash down the horse meat and rock hard bland cheese, it was the only thing that helped my stomach cope with the Kazakh meals. The Kazakh hunting eagles are just as majestic and awe-inspiring as Bodio writes. Nothing you read can prepare you for your first encounter.
David Lee Kirkland
First, a notation on the language which is fantastic. I am amazed that such a talented writer writes only about nature and birds and is not better known, but I will surely get my hands on some other books of his.
Second, the cultural milieu that brings the reader to the opening scene (of the eagle actually killing its prey) builds up during the narration and is one of the main subjects of the book. We get an excursus through Marco Polo's travels, Vadim Gorbatov's art work, Andrew's dinosaur discoveries, David Edwards beautiful fotographic images (by the way visit his site and enjoy the eagle and horseman pictures), practically into the author's mind. His references become our references and his dreams ours. One of the fascinanting aspects of this book is the closeness even layman can achieve to the eagle hunting subject.
Third, the book is travelogue or explornography (as the author puts it) and so a get along tale, that as always has the power of getting you to the last page with the curiousity of what is coming up next.
This work is enjoyable, mind and heart raising, didactic and cultural. Truely it can be offered as a gift to curious and encyclopedic friends.