Synopses & Reviews
A 25-year-old backcountry wanderer, a man happiest exploring wild places with his dog, Dan Bigley woke up one midsummer morning to a day full of promise. Before it was over, after a stellar day of salmon fishing along Alaskas Kenai and Russian rivers, a grizzly came tearing around a corner in the trail. Dan barely had time for “bear charging” to register before it had him on the ground, altering his life forever.
“Upper nose, eyes, forehead anatomy unrecognizable,” as the medevac report put it.
Until then, one thing after another had fallen into place in Dans life. He had a job he loved taking troubled kids on outdoor excursions. He had just bought a cabin high in the Chugach Mountains with a view that went on forever. He was newly in love. After a year of being intrigued by a woman named Amber, they had just spent their first night together. All of this was shattered by the mauling that nearly killed him, that left him blind and disfigured.
Facing paralyzing pain and inconceivable loss, Dan was in no shape to be in a relationship. He and Amber let each other go. Five surgeries later, partway into his long healing journey, they found their way back to each other. The couples unforgettable story is one of courage, tenacious will, and the power of love to lead the way out of darkness. Dan Bigleys triumph over tragedy is a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome physical and emotional devastation, to choose not just to live, but to live fully.
“This book is surprising in so many ways - heartfelt, funny, buoyant, tragic and triumphant - that after awhile I wanted to do nothing else but read it and be inspired and enthralled. And so I was.”
—Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak and Visions of a Wild America
“Combine a man shaped by an extraordinary experience with a writer adept at weaving the threads of his story and the result is a stunningly powerful book. Beyond the Bear may compel you to worry less about all the bad things that could happen in life and focus instead on embracing its possibilities. You might as well buy extra copies for you will soon want to give others the gift of this insightful and riveting read.”
—Jill Fredston, author of Rowing to Latitude and Snowstruck
“Beyond the Bear delivers in gut-wrenching detail the harrowing account of one of the most horrific bear attacks in recent Alaskan memory, but the book is so much more than a bear mauling. Beyond the Bear is a powerful love story and an unforgettable tale of hope and resilience, a triumph of the human spirit in the darkest of hours. A life destroyed in a blinding flash of blood and fur. A bright and beautiful Alaskan landscape seemingly darkened forever, the midnight sun all but extinguished, yet Dan Bigleys courage and heart take us all beyond the bear and along the way we all learn to see the world in a new and beautiful light.”
—Don Rearden, award-winning author of The Ravens Gift
“Beyond the Bear is far more than another ‘bear chew book; its a compelling, finely crafted tale of survival and redemption, a worthy addition to Alaska literature.”
—Nick Jans, author of The Grizzly Maze and A Wolf Called Romeo
The remarkable true story of a man who survived one of the most brutal bear attacks, and the woman whose love healed and inspired him
One beautiful July day, Dan Bigley set out for a day of salmon fishing on Alaska's famed Russian River. A man with an insatiable need to venture where roads are rare, Dan couldn’t have been happier as he started his day: He had a great job and a million-dollar view from his cabin, where his girlfriend, Amber, still slept. But that pristine snapshot in time was shattered when a grizzly bear snuck up and attacked, leaving him disfigured and blind.
After Dan was found nearly dead, Amber’s love was not lost. Extensive readjustment to an altered life and many surgeries later, the couple’s unforgettable story is one of courage and the power of love to lead the way out of darkness.
The unbelievable true story of a man who narrowly survived one of the most brutal grizzly bear attacks, and the love that separated his blindness from the dark .
About the Author
Dan Bigley was awarded the 2008 Alaskan of the Year Award by the Governors Committee on Employment and Rehabilitation for People with Disabilities. He, his wife, and two young children, live in Anchorage, Alaska.
Debra McKinney, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was a staff writer for the Anchorage Daily News. She and her husband live in Palmer, Alaska.