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

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Cambridge University Press, 2000 - History - 206 pages
6 Reviews
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 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 Sreated new types of hunters in both cultures: mounted Indian nomads and white commerical hide hunters. In the early twentieth century, nostalgia about the very cultural strife which first threatened the bison became, ironically, an important impetus to its preservation.

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

User Review  - Goodreads

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 ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Goodreads

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 ... Read full review

Selected pages


The Grassland Environment
The Genesis of the Nomads
The Nomadic Experiment
The Ascendancy of the Market
The Wild and the Tamed
The Returns of the Bison

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About the author (2000)

Andrew C. Isenberg is Professor of History at Temple University. Isenberg's research interests include environmental history, the history of the North American West, the United States from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, and the encounter between Euroamericans and natives. He is the author of Mining California: An Ecological History (2005) and the editor of The Nature of Cities: Culture, Landscape, and Urban Space (2006).

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