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American Buffalo American Buffalo American Buffalo

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  963 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
From the host of the Travel Channel's "The Wild Within."
A hunt for the American buffalo--an adventurous, fascinating examination of ananimal that has haunted the American imagination.
In 2005, Steven Rinella won a lottery permit to hunt for a wild buffalo, or American bison, in the Alaskan wilderness. Despite theodds--there's only a 2 percent chance of drawing the permit,
ebook, 288 pages
Published December 2nd 2008 by Spiegel & Grau
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Zach Matthews
Dec 11, 2011 Zach Matthews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I'm an outdoor writer (fly fishing magazines), so I have what you might call a professional appreciation for Rinella and his work. I've also interviewed him and I like him personally. Clearly, I am squarely in his target demographic, a hunter and fisherman as well as someone who is forced by realistic circumstances to live in a big city (Atlanta).

All that said, this is my favorite of the "microhistories" which have weighed down booksellers' shelves in recent years, in large part because Rinella
Pat Padden
I once saw Steven Rinella interviewed. He told a story about how, one Christmas shortly after he was married, he preceded his wife home to his parents' house for the holidays, leaving her to follow along behind, bearing the Christmas gifts for the family, and a cooler packed with game that Steven had shot on hunting trips and carefully laid aside for the holidays. When his wife got to the airport, she discovered that the flight she was taking was overcrowded, and she had to make a decision: eith ...more
Mar 25, 2009 Kirsten rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I heard an interview with the author on NPR and bought this book for my father. I have to say, he sounded a lot more articulate and focused in the interview than he does in the book. This book rambles a lot about buffalo and their place in the American psyche and little trivia bits, but it also goes on at great length about a buffalo hunt (the author drew a buffalo tag in an Alaskan hunting lottery), and that part was frankly boring to me. He also tended to insert a lot of himself into those sec ...more
Jan 13, 2010 Tripp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
American Buffalo is such a great read that I am surprised I haven't heard of it sooner (presumptuous of me, I know). The book is part memoir, part meditation on the American relationship with nature, part social commentary and part outdoor adventure tale. It takes quite a writer to weave that many strands together in a short book without derailing the narrative, but Steven Rinella makes it look easy.

Rinella's tone is that of a self deprecating conversationalist. He hops from topic to topic with
May 21, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We humans have little comprehension and find it difficult to make sensible decisions when we are confronted with what I will refer to as the efficacy of booms. The slaughtering of 50,000 buffalo in a single day or J. Wright Mooar personally killing 25,000 in a lifetime and their virtual disappearance and near extinction is terribly sad. Buffalo/Bison -- Rinella tells us they are genetically one and the same -- ranged from southern Alaska through the 4 western provinces of Canada and 36 states al ...more
Feb 14, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: npr-type-books
I wish I could mark this 3.5 stars. Rinella is a good writer and at no point in the book did I ever think to myself, "man, I wish I was done reading this book so I can read something else." Essentially, the book is about the author hunting a buffalo, but he mixes in the entire history of the buffalo and it's relationship to man. I liked the history parts, the hunting parts dragged a little (five or six chapters could be summed up by "I hiked around, shot a buffalo, was really cold, cut up the bu ...more
Jun 13, 2011 Joel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
wow, I bought this book because I like the picture of the buffalo on the cover. I always had a thing for buffalo I guess. I read the book during a beautiful day when I could have been off running or doing some exploring, but got lost in the book until I turned the last page. I think the reason for this is that you feel like you are along side the author on his adventure and he doens't really give you a reason to step away. I will look forward to finding more books by this author.

Anyone living in
This book is kindof like meeting a cute guy at a party and wondering why nobody else is talking to him. Then you realize why b/c he keeps talking and talking and talking and rambling and entertaining noone but himself with his limitless amount of detail and running off on tangents that you definitely don't want to follow him off on but there is just no time to break in and even mention needing a bathroom break. Finally you manage to get that bathroom break, but then you realize he might be a dia ...more
Beau Smith
Feb 16, 2009 Beau Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is part adventure book, part hunting book, part history book and all wonderful. Author Steven Rinella not only takes you on his hunt for Buffalo in Alaska, but he gives you all kinds of history on the animal that should be America's national animal. Rinella does a wonderful job in making you feel as though he is sitting across the table from you sharing his story and adventure. One can only imagine a couple of cold beers sitting in front of you.

This is a book that I have already read twice
Jun 13, 2015 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Steven Rinella, a naturalist, outdoorsman, and hunter, brings the reader along on a buffalo hunt deep in the Alaskan wilderness, and along the journey, tells the archaeological, sociological, and physical story of the buffalo and its significance to America.

Rinella is one of the most engaging and accessible nature writers I have ever read, and his ability to help readers connect with his experiences and passions made this book a surprising treasure to read. I plan to become a Rinella completist
Dan Croft
Nov 03, 2014 Dan Croft rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this book was written before "Meat Eater", I read it after I finished the former book, in large part because of how much I enjoyed meat eater. Rinella's writing style is informative, intelligent, but also engaging and humorous. In American Buffalo, Rinella chronicles a 2005 buffalo hunt he drew for the Copper River herd in Alaska. This is one of the few remaining wild herds of buffalo left in North America and drawing a tag for this hunt is extremely rare (especially since it was the fi ...more
Adrian Fingleton
Apr 26, 2015 Adrian Fingleton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A somewhat odd book. But rewarding. I borrowed it as an eBook from my local lending library onto mu Kindle Fire. So in a sense the success of the downloading process (Yes, I am a Tech God I told myself) set me up nicely for the book. Which is a sort of history of the American West and the near-extinction of the limitless Buffalo herds, interleaved with a personal hunt to shoot a buffalo as a part of a cull in the Yukon.

What did I like? Well the history bits were fascinating, the cold endured in
Mar 26, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't quite the book I was expecting. I had hoped for something a bit more serious and introspective, but despite all the teenage boy style quips, American Buffalo was very enjoyable. It is deeply researched and fans of trivia will find mountains of cool buffalo facts. If you have any interest in the history of the American west, the buffalo or hardcore immersion style hunting, you're likely to really enjoy this book as well.
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was predisposed to not wanting to like this book. I mean, come on, a guy that finds a buffalo skull and travels to Oxford to find out more and pulls a winning lottery to hunt a wild buffalo.... boring. But no! I gave this book to my son (seventeen years) to read and he loved it!

The book is very earthy, the author talks about the hunt, about the Indians treatment of the buffalo, about the white man's treatment of the buffalo, about eating and using every bit of the buffalo and it is good. I was
Taylor Farris
Nov 08, 2011 Taylor Farris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steven Rinella has created a masterpiece with American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon. From the very beginning Steven draws you in with his personal story with buffalo. The book itself is a very well written book. At the same time Steven weaves together two stories constantly changing between the present and the harsh past that buffalo have faced.
Since the author changes back and forth between stories one would assume that this is a very hard book to follow. This is not the case. The book it
Feb 06, 2009 Kyra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay so I don't hunt. Nor am I remotely attracted to or interested in buffalo. So why did I like this book ? First of all, there is something to be said for what Alex Gram once said to me: If you can't or are not prepared to kill it, you shouldn't eat it. I understand the intent behind that belief, I just have never had to test it. So back to the book: the author wins one of the few & desirable permits to find & shoot a buffalo in a remote wilderness area in Alaska. The book follows the ...more
Oct 10, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Great author - love Rinella and will continue to read and watch anything that comes from him. He is just that cool. :)
Joseph M. O'Connor
A Fascinating Perspective...

I dithered about this rating; three stars? Four stars? Finally I gave it four. Not for the book itself, but for the author's honesty and integrity, as well as his ability to transmit his sense of those values to me, his reader.

I was pleased to find so much history in the book. Some of the history just blew me away. Particularly the realization that the carnage that almost removed buffalo from North America forever really only lasted between 12 and 15 years.

Mr. Rinel
Oct 06, 2015 D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but of my own admission I am a fan and supporter of Mr. Rinella.

Other reviews of this book that are critical take aim at either the rambling nature of the book or the bore of the hunting aspect of the work. I understand both criticisms, but they simply did not bother me nearly as much as other folks. While it was perhaps a tad bit disorganized, I very much appreciated all of the historical context of buffalo in America, the relationship of the American people to
James (JD) Dittes
Rinella has such a cool way of revealing a ton (which happens to be the weight of a bison bull) of information about the American bison.

Set in fifteen episodes that follow Rinella's hunt of a bison cow in Alaska in 2005, the first-hand account is interspersed with information about the natural history and range of the bison. A visit to Folsom, New Mexico, reveals the fossils of extinct North American bison who had wide, longhorn-style sets of horns but who were cut down by the first North Americ
Jul 20, 2009 Kristi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tyler loved this book so I decided to try it out. I came away feeling totally ambivalent about it. Of course, I don't share his buffalo obsession either, but I was not very impressed. I often found the stories in the footnotes to be more interesting than the actual text. Mostly, I ended up feeling sorry for the buffalo more than anything else.
Joseph Pacey
Jun 23, 2015 Joseph Pacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read Steven Rinella's book "Meat Eater" and rather enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to reading this one. Also, a friend of mine had recommended this book to me, so together those things had given me fairly high expectations for the book. Even with my expectations already high, American Buffalo surpassed them all.

The book is rich in history and fact about such an amazing animal. Describing the evolutionary history of the animal as well as how it traveled across the land bridge in the Be
Jan 08, 2015 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rinella provides engaging and interesting insight into the cultural and historical contexts of buffalo, but much of this seems to be in the way of tidbits and often come across as disconnected anecdotes. Much of the book deals with detailing the author's buffalo hunt. Unfortunately, the writing centered on this topic came across as laborious and somewhat tedious. The thinking and writing here also seemed to remain largely on the surface and accepts the value and wisdom of hunting "an American ic ...more
Jun 22, 2015 Alexa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, non-fiction, adult
This is a book about buffalo through history and through America, through the eyes of someone who has set out to kill one in modern day Alaska using old methods. I listened to this book in Yellowstone, which is the perfect setting as bison are everywhere. I was amazed by the thorough history lesson, as well as the anatomy lesson as Rinella hunts and actually kills a bison (that fact is revealed in the introduction, so I haven't spoiled anything). An ode to the wilderness and an exploration of wh ...more
I found myself liking this book against my will. The book is both a personal account of the author's relationship and interest in buffalo, as well as a historical account of the American people's relationship and experience (and exploitation) with the same.

The first few pages turned me off, because the author has this very grating style of writing about his own experiences that had me rolling my eyes every other paragraph. Example: "There's a set of grizzly tracks on my boot prints from just an
Apr 13, 2009 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
American Buffalo is a wilderness adventure—well, more specifically, it’s a hunting memoir—padded-out to a full-length book with some writing on the natural history of the American bison, an exploration of the author’s obsession with buffalo, and an understanding of the Krakauer-ian force that draws young men (and women) to the remote wilderness. Rinella’s writing can be, at times, eloquent and moving, as when he describes taking part in a spontaneous buffalo vigil with protestors in Yellowstone. ...more
Scott Taylor
Feb 13, 2011 Scott Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enthralling from the beginning to the end. Rinella manages an ode to the buffalo told in the context of myth, history and science. And relates his own personal journey from the discovery of a buried buffalo skull in a Montana forest to a grueling hunt for buffalo in the wilds of the Alaskan wilderness.

In all the stories and anecdotes provided, there is both knowledge and entertainment. Humor is plentiful here, though perhaps not as emphasized as one might find in a book by Bryson. The author's s
May 28, 2012 D1wata rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hunters, anthropologists
Really really like what author did with this subject. I got it on a whim ($1 cart) at the Strand, and I honestly didn't think I'd read it before I re-donated it. But Rinella took a topic that's just sort of interesting to me, and did a lot with it. It's part memoir, history, science, Native American relations, American history, anthropology, ecology, environmental, travel (to Alaska wilderness), and food. Author could have been very annoying, since the premise was pretty transparently driven by ...more
Ian Kerns
Nov 08, 2011 Ian Kerns rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great American Icon

American Buffalo by Steven Rinella is an intriguing narrative about the author’s journey to investigate the buffalo and its history. The history of the buffalo is not well understood. The book was well constructed; Rinella puts various bouts of humor into his adventure in Alaska, while still making the volume factual and engaging. The plot, however, got repetitive. There were only so many times that he could follow uninhabited buffalo trails. The one time he does find a
Kyle Iverson
Nov 09, 2011 Kyle Iverson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
American Buffalo is an enlightening tale of America’s most iconic beast. We follow author Steven Rinella’s Journey to unlock the truth about buffalo. He seamlessly mends past present and future into an interesting narrative that spans countless generations. His journey into the Alaskan wilderness leaps into the buffalo’s historic and biologic past, as well as its mysterious future. The story is structured to follow Rinella’s buffalo hunt but integrates flashbacks to his previous experiences as w ...more
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