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The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship, Tragedy, and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  542 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
With a body twisted by adolescent scoliosis and memories of the brutal death of a woman he loved, Lynn Schooler kept the world at arm's length, drifting through the wilds of Alaska as a commercial fisherman, outdoorsman, and wilderness guide. In 1990 Schooler met Japanese photographer Michio Hoshino and began a profound friendship forged by a love of adventure and cemented ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 7th 2002 by Ecco (first published May 1st 2002)
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Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really feel like I should love this book. There's so much that's right with it. The Blue Bear is ultimately a story of admiration and love for a good man. It's written by Lynn Schooler, a guide who makes his living taking photographers around the waters and glaciers of the fractured straits, islands, and bays near Juneau Alaska. One of his repeat customers is a Japanese nature photographer named Michio Hoshino. In the course of their working relationship Hoshino and Schooler become good friend ...more
M.F. Soriano
I enjoyed some of the nature-oriented passages, mostly because they engage my interests, but in the end this book felt contrived. It tries to wrap itself around a central topic--the author's friendship with a nature photographer--but the topic is too lightweight to support a whole book. The relationship in question is based on just a few shared trips, with more details of the natural events witnessed than of interpersonal bonding between the two main characters, and the author comes across more ...more
dead letter office
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
A really good story of a place and a person and a vision that are all powerfully solitary and unique. Something about the relationship between the author and the photographer who was the subject struck me as creepy, though. Reading nonfiction where you have that unreliable narrator feel is actually viscerally unsettling when it ends in the death of one of the subjects (Two Coots in a Canoe: An Unusual Story of Friendship).
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book!!!! Schooler was a great guide as his writing introduced me to the Alaskan wilderness, his lifestyle and his friendship with Michio Hoshino. I had never heard of Michio before and since I have read Scholler book, I can NOT forget him. This fact proves Schooler's book achieved a great goal.. But even beyond bringing me close to Michio, Schooler brought me close to his heart --This author reads honest and smart... I really loved the work!.
I'd heard great things about this book -- and even so it surprised me. Schooler is earnest and genuine. His mixing of history/natural history with the story of coming to know photographer Michio Hoshino is a bit awkward. The transitions between, for example, "my" story and "here's some background about Tlingit culture" are clunky -- but still, there's something here about the influence of friendship that is moving. Something about the ways of seeing that is valuable.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group-books
Not a book I would have normally been drawn to. Skimmed some bits, but he did go on about scenery and boating. And bears are scary.
Teresa Dicentra
The Blue Bear by Lynn Schooler

I have not enjoyed a book this much in a very long time! Excellent read.

This nature adventure story takes place mostly in South East Alaska, but it is not like any other book I have ever read about Alaska.

Non-fiction, and somewhat autobiographical, it tells the story of personal tragedy, natural history and friendship between the author and his photographer friend, Michio Hosino. In a way, it is a wonderful tribute to Hoshino and his work.

The book starts very slowl
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a complete package of excellent writing, accurate descriptions of nature and Alaskan culture, and a thoughtful story of a beautiful friendship. The author describes his meeting of Michio, a professional photographer from Japan who books a charter of the author's boat in SE Alaska. Over time, despite the temporary nature of relationships of guide and client, an unlikely relationship develops. The author teaches the client about the nature of SE AK and slowly the client teaches the au ...more
Andrea Conarro
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobio-or-bio
What did I think? It was my weekend indulgence, pressed because I had borrowed my parents' copy, pressed because I wanted to get it read quick.

I thought author Lynn Schooler was a bit self involved at times, but who among us isn't? When he spoke of his twisting scoliosis spine causing him to distrust and become a hermit, I felt like giving him the Cher treatment in Moonstruck--slapping him across the face and saying, "Snap out of it!" But I also did not ultimately mind his wound-licking moments.
Todd Ryan
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
IMPORTANT: If you choose to read this book, do NOT look at the color photos in the middle of the book until after you read it!!! The first and second photo pages are fine, but the third one container a major spoiler! I don't know who's decision that was, but it almost ruined the reading experience for me.

This book started out slowly and leisurely, and I almost abandoned it in the first 100 pages. But then, I thought of the handful of people I've met that are great sailors or hunters, and I thou
Brandon Clark
The Blue Bear by Lynn Schooler is an excellent book. I have previously read a book by this author and was eager to read another. Schooler travels to multiple locations throughout his home state, Alaska, telling the story of his adventures along the way. The purpose of this book is to entertain the reader. Throughout the book, Schooler uses comical scenes and phrases to enhance his writing to make it more engaging for the reader.

Throughout the book, the author and his god friend are in search of
Dec 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My son bought this book for me, otherwise I most likely wouldn't have picked it up. I'm glad he did. The author lives on a boat in Juneau, home is the 'Wilderness Swift' at the harbor. He is a guide for wildlife photographers, and takes bookings for trips around Southeast Alaska. The story focuses on the author's growing friendship with a Japanese photographer, Michio Hoshino, and his search for the elusive and seldom seen Glacier bear, so called blue because of the hue of its fur. Their adventu ...more
Books Read: The Blue Bear 04072014 By Lynn Schooler

Really enjoyed. Would like to see Michio Hoshino's photos.

With a body twisted by adolescent scoliosis and memories of the brutal death of a woman he loved, Lynn Schooler kept the world at arm's length, drifting through the wilds of Alaska as a commercial fisherman, outdoorsman, and wilderness guide. In 1990, Schooler met Japanese photographer Michio Hoshino, and began a profound friendship cemented by a shared love of adventure and a passionate
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I have a great interest in nature, a milder one for Alaska, and a passing interest in photography and true crime — in short, every aspect advertised as of this memoir. Sadly, I could never engage with it. Schooler came off to me as a man full of hippy-dippy sensibilities. He's clearly trying to tell of experiences that had caused him great emotion, but it all felt forced. Described interactions between the author and his deceased friend felt overly dramatic and, frankly, poorly written and espec ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember the last time I went to the dictionary so much to check the meaning of words. I mention this not just because Schooler seems to have a McPhee-like commitment to preserving the richness of the English language, but also to show how much I wanted as a reader to understand his thinking. His in an engaging story, complete with storms at sea, encounters with bears, death and murder. But it's also a moving tale of friendship and a thoughtful examination of how one's experiences can af ...more
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I started it. I'd only heard about it because I eavesdropped on overheard someone's conversation while I was hiking out to the Exit Glacier in Seward, AK. I heard a woman recommend it to a companion, and decided I should check it out. This was a nice memoir of an Alaskan wilderness guide. A self-described hermit, the author formed an unlikely friendship with one of his clients, a Japanese wilderness photographer. Together the two go in search of ...more
I found this book at the library by accident and decided it sounded like an interesting story. I have an interest in Alaska so I was especially looking forward to finding out more about it.

I very much enjoyed the book and the story, as well as the author's very personal and intimate way of describing his life story. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a letter rather than a book.

I was not familiar with the characters of the book so to me this was not a book about "famous people". It was more abo
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I absolutely loved this book, and writing this review makes me want to read it again. I don't read all that much non-fiction, but I read a review of this book somewhere and was interested enough to seek it out at the library. My initial interest was mainly based on learning more about the life and death of Michio Hoshino, whose wildlife photography I loved, and whose tragic death I had read about in National Wildlife magazine. Boring, uninteresting writing is what usually makes me give up on a n ...more
Schooler tells of his work as a wildlife guide on his boat, The Wilderness Swift, throughout the islands and waters of southeastern Alaska. He also tells of his friendship with a Japanese photographer named Michio Hoshino, and their search for the elusive glacier bear--a search which goes on for many years.

This was a quieter book, with descriptions of a lot of beautiful scenery and animal encounters, some science explaining various natural phenomena, and at its heart, this deep friendship betwee
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book, very well written and heartfelt, by a man who has an acute appreciation of the value of friendship and who really sees and understands the natural world.

Schooler, an Alaskan guide, meets and develops a friendship with Michio Hoshino, a Japanese photographer. He guides Hoshino on several expeditions, developing a warm bond with him and learning both photography and life lessons along the way. Schooler has a comprehensive knowledge of the geography, geology, flora and fauna o
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful trip through the wilds of Alaska, beautiful introduction to the mystery and attraction of the glacier bear, and a touching story of friendship with Mishio Hoshino. This book is technically a memoir but the author upstages himself with the author's good friend and the glacier bear.

I have enjoyed the photography of Mishio Hoshino but never appreciated the work and success of the photography. I remember when he died but never connected the tragedy with his work. After this book, I will
Oct 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
As part of the author's accounts of his life and his time with Michio Hoshino are detailed descriptions of the natural beauty and dangers of the Southeast Alaskan wild and asides on the history of the area. I appreciated this highly personal account even more because of a camping trip I took to the same area more than ten years ago. I recommend it for those with an appreciation of natural history and interest in this part of the world, with the understanding that it's really a story about how hi ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We've had this book in our home for several years, so I'm not really sure why I only just read it (it was a gift for my husband a few Christmases ago). Very good read, with wonderful descriptions of time spent exploring the natural beauty of Southeast Alaska, and the great friendship of two people who share the love of true wilderness. Lynn Schooler does not hold back when it comes to examining his own life, although he is pretty hard on himself. I may have to take a break from the intense perso ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For nature lovers, some interesting facts and stories. For relationship lovers, again, some interesting insights. Not my favorite book of the year, but glad I read it. It does have a few pages of pictures in the middle which I skipped over and which anyone who reads it should skip as well if you don't want to know the ending. (Personally, I use this rule on all books which have pictures in the middle.)
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book encapsulates so much about what it meant to live in Alaska in a certain time and what it still means in some areas today. The closeness of death and the surreal holiness of daily life are all wrapped up in this account of geography, geodesy, marine and mammal life and friendship. This isn't so much about Michio and Lynn as it is about how Lynn has learned to keep his rudder steady in the strong tides of his life.
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had actually read a short excerpt in another book about Michio's tragic death as an example of "when bears attack," so to speak. That excerpt didn't even come close to the beauty of Michio's life.
I greatly appreciated the author's brutal honesty - about his life, his feelings, his surroundings.
This was a beautiful novel that I didn't want to end, which is the highest praise I can give a piece of nonfiction. Lynn Schooler brought Michio back to life within those pages.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very well written and you can really feel the emotion coming from the author. At times I think he gets a little too technical with details that really aren't that relevant to the overall story but this certainly doesn't harm the book in anyway.

Definitely a book I'll be keeping to re-read.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Schooler tells the story of a decade long search for the rare glacier (blue) bear, and of his 'friendship with an uncommon man' - a Japenese photographer whom he met by chance. Over several expeditions to photograph whales and glaciers, the two focused in on the glacier bear, a rare creature that became the Holy Grail of their joint expeditions.
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd give it 10 stars if I could. Perhaps it touched me more because I just returned from my first visit to Alaska, and/or because it weaves many pieces of science into the fabric of human emotional connections, but I think this is the finest memoir I've ever read, and one of my favorite books ever. I'm sure I'll come back to it.
Amy Flaherty Gorn
Wonderful story of friendship, Alaska outdoors and natural history. I liked its Southeast setting, given its now my home. Some of the nat history droned on for me but it was nicely woven in. I did additional researching on people, places, circumstances after the fact. Now, to see the adapted play some day!
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Lynn is a critically acclaimed writer, guide, and outdoorsman whose work has been published in more than a dozen languages. His first book, The Blue Bear, was awarded the French literary prize Prix Littéraire 30 Millions d'Amis. His most recent non-fiction work, Walking Home, won the 2010 Banff Mountain Festival's 'Best Mountain Literature' prize. His first novel, published under the pen name Lynn ...more
More about Lynn Schooler...
“The image of my father's ashes drifting down into the clear water among the spawning salmon played across the screen of my mind. I counted off all the deaths I had seen, the tally of which remarked upon the fate of all living things, which is to be eaten, whether by whales, eagles, bears, or the microbes of the grave. But this is part and parcel of the continuation of life...the translation of bidies into more bodies, and life into life. The litter of shattered crab shell at my feet gave brilliant red testimony to how death becomes life, is necessary for life, and this being so, is beyond being labeled as good or bad.” 0 likes
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