The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920

Andrew C. Isenberg


The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920

The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920

  • Title: The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920
  • Author: Andrew C. Isenberg
  • ISBN: 9780521003483
  • Page: 366
  • Format: Paperback



The Destruction of the Bison explains the decline of the North American bison population from an estimated 30 million in 1800 to fewer than 1000 a century later In this wide ranging, interdisciplinary study, Andrew C Isenberg argues that the cultural and ecological encounter between Native Americans and Euroamericans in the Great Plains was the central cause of the nearThe Destruction of the Bison explains the decline of the North American bison population from an estimated 30 million in 1800 to fewer than 1000 a century later In this wide ranging, interdisciplinary study, Andrew C Isenberg argues that the cultural and ecological encounter between Native Americans and Euroamericans in the Great Plains was the central cause of the near extinction of the bison Drought and the incursion of domestic livestock and exotic species such as horses into the Great Plains all threatened the Western ecosystem, which was further destabilized as interactions between Native Americans and Euroamericans created new types of hunters in both cultures mounted Indian nomads and white commercial hide hunters In the early twentieth century, nostalgia about the very cultural strife that first threatened the bison became, ironically, an important impetus to its preservation.


Recent Comments "The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920"

An impressive and original environmental history that conveys the entire story of the American Great Plains through its most notable mammal.First, Isenberg does a great job explaining the traits and habits of the bison. It alone among the American megafauna survived the great die-off of 12,000 years ago (caused both by the last ice age and the introduction of Indian hunters), because it could reproduce at almost 20% a year and it could survive on the stubby short-grass of the drought-afflicted W [...]

Andrew Isenberg presents a solid, and increasingly uncommon argument, about the agency of culture, production, and ecology in environmental change. He follows Arthur McEvoy's thesis and expands it, specifically focusing on the American West and its environmental history. What destroyed the bison? Isenberg burdens the natural world, the capitalist mode of production, and the culture of Euroamericans and American Indians. In a field dominated by anthropocentrism (see Crosby's "Changes In The Land" [...]

Isenberg's work is a fairly exhaustive analysis of what pressures and factors contributed to the sudden and sharp decline of bison populations from the tens of millions to less than a thousand individuals by 1890. I found his arguments pointing to overhunting by buffalo robe hunters to be very compelling and he backs it up with very good evidence. However, I don't feel his analysis of primary documents related to Native Americans/First Nations to be very critical. He seems to take many negative [...]

Ever want to know more about what really happened to the bison? Want to get beyond the oversimplified explanation we all learn in grade school? Then read this book. Isenberg does a spectacular job of explaining what really happened, using an even handed, matter-of-fact style. He brings together a prodigious amount of period quotes and information, all well footnoted, and takes a scientific and balanced approach to explaining how we destroyed the largest and most dominant mammal in the largest bi [...]

The information in this book is outdated at it was written a while ago. Students have already been feed the facts that resulted from this book, so some information seems redundant, but I did like the overarching concepts presented and how he put them together. Lots of good detail. Yet, the first three chapters are not that well organized, but the last three are very interesting.

a very interesting book about how the bison were killed to near extinction and then brought back through conservation efforts. Author gets a bit distracted by talking about grass and his dubious theory that the change in gender roles is what caused the Native Americans to destroy their own food source.

Its an amazing book!


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    Posted by:Andrew C. Isenberg
    Published :2018-09-16T19:42:44+00:00