My rating: 5 of 5 stars
OK, first of all, this book had me at “Wolverine.” Show me a book about any fierce, oft misunderstood charismatic megafauna and there is a 99% chance I’m buying that. Add in the factor that the wolverine is perhaps one of the most fascinating (and threatened) carnivores roaming the rapidly melting high alpine environments of the world, and that it is the undisputed, 100% authentic and matchless badass of the animal kingdom, and you have me fully hooked.
All of that aside, this book is beautifully written, so even people who are not as completely enamored of giant furry things with teeth as me will no doubt enjoy this story. Douglas Chadwick has been a science communicator all of his life, so it’s no surprise to find artfully crafted sentences, but it was a delight to also be placed fully into the high peaks of Glacier National Park with his immersive and descriptive language. Chadwick wrote the book while serving as a volunteer on a long-running (yet now defunct) wolverine study, and he had a special connection to it since he grew up right outside of Glacier’s doorstep. Tell me how this writing doesn’t captivate a person:
“During a hiking trip in Glacier National Park, I would be considered a visitor. But I am also the owner. I can’t build a house or do business in the park. I can’t haul any materials out of it. I can, however, pass as many days as I want here, hike to my heart’s content, and make Glacier my spiritual home for as long as I breathe. Though I’m nobody special, all of its square miles and hundreds of thousands more from the Everglades to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and all the summits, canyons, wild rivers, desert sunsets, and seashore fogs within them are part of my holdings. I take the privileges and responsibilities that come with such an inheritance seriously. If I want to keep the likes of tree frogs, trout, bison, grizz, old-growth cypress woodlands, swans, prairie dogs, orchids, manatees, warblers, and wolverines on my place, I’m obliged to make sure they have what they need to flourish.”
I enjoyed this book immensely and would recommend it to anyone who loves wild places and creatures.