Synopses & Reviews
For more than forty years the prairies of South Dakota have been Dan OBriens home. Working as a writer and an endangered-species biologist, he became convinced that returning grass-fed, free-roaming buffalo to the grasslands of the northern plains would return natural balance to the region and reestablish the undulating prairie lost through poor land management and overzealous farming. In 1998 he bought his first buffalo and began the task of converting a little cattle ranch into an ethically run buffalo ranch.
Wild Idea is a book about how good food choices can influence federal policies and the integrity of our food system, and about the dignity and strength of a legendary American animal. It is also a book about people: the daughter coming to womanhood in a hard landscape, the friend and ranch hand who suffers great tragedy, the venture capitalist who sees hope and opportunity in a struggling buffalo business, and the husband and wife behind the ranch who struggle daily, wondering if what they are doing will ever be enough to make a difference. At its center, Wild Idea is about a family and the people and animals that surround them—all trying to build a healthy life in a big, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous land.
"Few ecological concerns are so controversial as hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' the process by which chemicals are pumped deep into the earth to retrieve natural gas from buried shale deposits. Across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, pro- and anti-fracking forces are marshaling their constituencies for a showdown. Opponents argue that the process will ruin major water supplies, while advocates see huge resources of energy and the prospect of dazzling wealth. Wilbur, a former environmental reporter who has been covering the fracking debate from the beginning, combines a storyteller's ear with a journalist's eye, offering a sensitive and especially timely take on the issue. Here, the villains that emerge include the landmen, buyers of mineral rights who show up on doorsteps throughout the region offering tempting buyouts, while for heroes, we are introduced to neighbors, such as Victoria Switzer and Ken Ely, two very different people thrown together in the fight to save their homes, and others who took the money offered by the developers and moved on. In the most inspiring passages, Wilbur tells how the residents of New York's Southern Tier and Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains, organized, fought, and participated in countless meetings and government hearings to determine the future of their homes and land. This book will be essential background reading for the still-unfolding fracking drama." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A deeply humane book that looks at ranching as a sustainable enterprise, a way of life more than an economic engine. . . . There may be plenty of disappointments out on the Plains, but this book is not one of them."—Kirkus
“Wild Idea is a lyrical tribute to the idea of buffalo back on the plains, the rewards and challenges of putting them there. But it is so much more. Its about all the life on the prairie, on the hardscrabble ranches and in the small towns. With this book, Dan secures his place as our modern prairie muse.”—Tom Brokaw, NBC journalist and author
“Dan OBriens book strikes me as a gentle but badly needed confrontation. . . . Figuring out how to realign the way we live with the health of the ecological systems that support us is the single most important challenge of the twenty-first century, and that makes OBriens book an essential meditation.”—Edward Norton, actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity
“Making strong, lasting connections between the rugged land and the strong people is a staple of life on the Great Plains. Dan OBriens gift is helping people understand this connection and the basic and difficult truth that sustainable living is not simple; it is as matted and dense as the thick fur that defines the buffalos very nature.”—Tom Daschle, former U.S. senator from South Dakota and former U.S. Senate majority leader
"[Wild Idea] is a sweet little sagebrush soap opera of extended family joys and travails."—Jim Sterba, Wall Street Journal
[Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land
is] a book that elegantly explores the tension between hope and futility in one mans effort to kindle restoration on the Great Plains."—Carson Vaughan, High Country News
About the Author
Dan OBrien is the author of numerous novels and memoirs, including Buffalo for the Broken Heart: Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch, winner of the Western Heritage Award for best nonfiction. His books Stolen Horses, Equinox, The Indian Agent, and The Contract Surgeon are available from the University of Nebraska Press.