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Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness Paperback – April 15, 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Doug Peacock, the model for the George Hayduke of Edward Abbey's novels The Monkey Wrench Gang and Hayduke Lives!, served two tours of duty in Vietnam as a Green Beret medic, ministering to the Montagnard and Hre peoples of the highlands while trying to jump over the bullets that rang around him. When he returned home, as he writes, "I retreated to the woods and pushed my mind toward sleep with cheap wine." In those woods he found grizzly bears, and among them he shook off memories of war. In the pages of this memoir, recounting what has now been Peacock's many years among them, the bears of Montana come to life. They find an eloquent protector here.

From Publishers Weekly

Returning from the war in Vietnam, Peacock sought peace of mind in the wilderness with the grizzly bears; his observations of them constitute natural history writing of a high order.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805045430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805045437
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I met Doug Peacock when he was a guest speaker at the Telluride Colorado Mushroom festival. This may seem like an odd venue for an author whose subject is grizzly bears, but when you have heard his stories of survival in the wilderness, part of which involved wild mushrooms, it no longer seems so bizarre. Peacock's dedication to knowing the grizzly is all-encompassing, and it is plain that without an extensive understanding of the natural world he would not have been able to get as close to his subject as he did. He is comparable to Jane Goodall and her relationship to chimpanzees, though the nature of the grizzly does somewhat preclude the intimacy Goodall had with chimps. Peacock got as close to grizzlys as a human can without changing places in the food chain, and just barely at that. This man carries an aura of intensity unlike any I've ever encountered. He knows whereof he speaks, at a level so much deeper than most people will ever encounter that it is impossible to ignore him. He is driven from such a fundamental level that it is obvious that he has no agenda other than understanding. Read and learn.
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Format: Paperback
My interest was piqued by Jack Turner's "Abstract Wild" which stands alone as the most intense and vital book written on the experience of wildness. From Turner's comments I ventured to buy a copy of Peacock's book "Grizzly Years" even after having read some of the negative comments I found in the reviews given. There is some truth to these comments but they are far outweiged by honesty and boldness of the experiences of Doug Peacock throughout his `Grizzly Years' which of course are not simply the years Peacock spent studying and living near Grizzlies but rather the years of his own transformation from out of the nightmare that was the Vietnam War. I don't think it is an accident that as one proceeds through the book, which is interspersed with Vietnam war experiences, these experiences no longer command the full attention of Peacock as his healing takes place. More and more he assumes the life of a person living in the moment and can pass by the old nightmares for the realness of his life now. No doubt writing this book itself was a part of his cleaning out process and the leaving behind of past lives because they are no longer necessary. Rather than being excerpts to attract or hold the attention they are an integral part of the story, first the very real and immensly powerful experience of combat and the ever present horror of suffering which is always there confronting him, making his life moments which are full of life or death and nothing in between.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
After reading so much of Edward Abby, I discovered this book through a friend and after two years, I still thank him for telling me about The Grizzly Years. Doug Peacock's writing was not only captivating and inspiring, it was also picturesque. Mr. Peacock, I know nothing about you really, but should you ever read this be happy to know that there are a lot of river guides, wildlife biologists, and mountain guides working in the wilderness in central Idaho that have seen Grizzly and have read your book and appreciate you, your books, the bears, and your attitude. Thank you!
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Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding book written by a man who is extraordinarily comfortable in his own skin, yet extraordinarily uncomfortable in modern society.

Peacock is a man who can write lyrically and genuinely about the wilderness, who can stand tall while staring a grizzly in the eyes, and yet who can't attend a party, or walk through a city, or even meet an innocuous stranger who has expressed an interest in chatting with him.

I've read a few other books by people who share Peacock's gruff no-compromise attitude when it comes to environmental protection, and have been really bothered by the sense that they seem to have formed a "we understand nature and you don't" club that excludes most of the environmental movement. Authors Gary Ferguson and Rick Bass (who spent some wilderness time with Peacock) have managed to make this model of environmental conservation seem childish and churlish. But Peacock, who is basically writing the same argument, gives this idea wings on which we soar.

Peacock is brutally honest about himself, and about how his war experiences in Vietnam shattered his soul and left him thrashing about the country in a state of spiritual agony. When he relates a story about becoming frustrated with a payphone operator, and then taking out a shotgun and blowing the telephone to bits, we know that he's not billing himself as a healthy individual.

This honesty lets us see the genuine love that Peacock has for nature in general and grizzly bears in particular. He is well-versed in the scientific side of environmental preservation, and gives us plenty to chew on as far as the good and bad of the institutions that are involved with grizzly bear issues.
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