Books about Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, and other anomalous hominoids said to lurk in remote wilderness regions occupy a special category in cult literature. Since the appearance in 1955 of Bernard Heuvelmans’s cryptozoological classic On the Track of Unknown Animals
, a growing congregation of amateur sleuths, scholars, and journalists, drawn to reports of manlike monsters, have penned tomes arguing that unclassified ape-men do indeed exist.
I first came upon these books at my local public library growing up as a kid in Toronto the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sandwiched between works on UFOs and the Bermuda Triangle — in what was clearly the “unexplained” section — stood a dozen or so books about the Yeti and Bigfoot. I devoured each one of these works in succession and was soon re-reading them for lack of new material emerging at the time.
Jump ahead to the 21st century where the continued elusiveness of the Sasquatch is belied by its ubiquity in pop culture — including in books. The Internet helped the formerly fringe topic explode in popularity and enter the mainstream. The nonfiction book offerings on the Sasquatch have multiplied exponentially in tandem. Many of them are by part-time enthusiast researchers. A few skeptics have added their voices to the cascading pile of wildman tomes. So too have those who plug the more esoteric takes on the Sasquatch, insisting the creature is supernatural, interdimensional, and/or extraterrestrial.
So how does one navigate this cacophonous, shaggy, free-for-all of book offerings? A lifetime’s experience exploring this topic has led me to compile a list of some of my personal favorites.
Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us
by John Green
This journalistic work by one of the earliest Bigfoot investigators is a foundational pillar of Sasquatch studies and an absolute must-read. Green was a British Columbia newspaper reporter and publisher who caught the Bigfoot bug in the 1950s, just before Sasquatch became a household name. He spent his life diligently compiling reports and publishing catalogs of those encounters in book form with the sober, critical eye of a journalist. This title, his magnum opus, includes the now famous story of prospector Albert Ostman, whom he interviewed and who claimed he was kidnapped by a Sasquatch while in his sleeping bag at Toba Inlet, BC.
Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science
by Jeff Meldrum
Books by legitimate scientists in support of unclassified primates are rarer than sightings of the Mothman. This groundbreaking work by Dr. Jeff Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University, is perhaps the most authoritative of them. In it, Meldrum, an expert in the evolution of hominid bipedalism, argues for the existence of Sasquatches owing to their apparent physical traits inferred from footprint evidence and the Patterson-Gimlin film that shows what appears to be a female Bigfoot walking at Bluff Creek, California, in 1967. Those anatomical observations, Meldrum suggests, including the shape and structure of the Sasquatch foot, are biologically consistent for an animal of the reported size and weight of Bigfoot. His book constitutes a wider scientific inquiry into the topic.
Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence
by Grover Krantz
This dense tome by another scientist, the late Dr. Grover Krantz, the eccentric professor of physical anthropology at Washington State University, contained the first detailed analysis of Sasquatch physical evidence. Employing calculations, diagrams, and other scientific reasoning, Krantz weaves a Da Vinci-esque blueprint of a creature which he maintains is almost certain to exist. He was the first to publicly point out and champion the evidence of dermal features in track casts. He also unpacked in furious and obsessive detail the Patterson-Gimlin film which he considered genuine — and unfakeable. Krantz donated his remains to the Smithsonian, where his skeleton — and that of his dog Clyde — are today on display.
Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide
by Robert Michael Pyle
In a subject area whose works tend to push hard arguments, it’s nice to read a book about the Sasquatch that straddles the line of the exist vs. doesn't exist debate — while also telling a story. Washington State natural history writer and author Robert Michael Pyle weaves an entertaining and insightful yarn that is part travel memoir, part meditation on Bigfoot, and part manifesto on nature. The book chronicles his trek into the unprotected wilderness of the Dark Divide near Mount St. Helens. Pyle navigates landscapes of ecology, geography, and human belief. The book’s philosophical approach fills an underrepresented niche in the Sasquatch literature.
by Thom Powell
This book, by a retired science teacher and Bigfoot researcher living in Oregon, was a radical work of its time that put forward novel ideas about Sasquatches and their behavior — from their propensity for habituation to the possibility that they emit infrasound. It is one of the more interesting books with a somewhat metaphysical bent. The work represented a watershed in Powell’s evolution as a researcher. The author, who began as a traditional investigator, today focuses on the paranormal phenomenon that is reported alongside some encounters. Powell asserts that logic and objective scientific methods won’t solve the mystery alone, as the creatures transcend our material reality and are best studied subjectively.
by Robert Alley
There’s a twofold appeal to this superbly researched book, a compendium of northwest coastal Bigfoot reports and lore by a retired professor of anatomy and physiology. First its geographical focus is the pristine and exceptionally remote north coast of British Columbia and the adjacent Alaska panhandle — part of the largest stretch of temperate rain forest in the world and a paradise habitat for Sasquatches. Second, the book explores, fairly in-depth, local indigenous lore about the creatures, which tend to be neglected by other writers. The book includes some interesting photos and sketches detailing specific encounters.
North America’s Great Ape: The Sasquatch
by John Bindernagel
The late John Bindernagel was a Canadian wildlife biologist and Bigfoot researcher who spent his career trying to convince his scientific colleagues, with little success, that Sasquatches are an unclassified species of great ape. Bindernagel draws connections between the reported physical and behavioral attributes of the creatures with that of other known primate species in Asia and Africa. He tells us why Sasquatches are hard to misidentify as bears at close range, and he includes many interesting eyewitness drawings of the creatures. Later in life Bindernagel argued that regardless of the scientific consensus, the Sasquatch has already been “discovered.” It remains a de facto discovery, he said, because it is neither socially nor scientifically sanctioned.
Anatomy of a Beast: Obsession and Myth on the Trail of Bigfoot
by Michael McLeod
The Sasquatch phenomenon would be far less interesting without its controversies and the fraction of possibility — either larger or smaller depending on your views — that Bigfoots don’t exist. Michael McLeod’s well-written book is an entertaining, sympathetic, and ultimately skeptical account of the Bigfoot mystery as seen from the colorful, flawed, and sometimes comical characters who occupied center stage in the early years of Bigfoot research. Also a travelogue that takes us through the rural communities of Northern California, McLeod’s work argues that the controversial Patterson-Gimlin was faked — a position which doesn’t endear itself to most Sasquatch aficionados.
Searching for Sasquatch: Crackpots, Eggheads, and Cryptozoology
by Brian Regal
This is another outstandingly researched and deftly written skeptical take on the Sasquatch mystery that looks specifically at the relationship (often contentious) between the professional scientists and amateur sleuths who pursue Bigfoot. Regal, who is an Assistant Professor of the History of Science at Kean University, and who specializes in pseudoscience, the occult, and monster studies, makes as his protagonist Grover Krantz and his on again, off again nemesis, the cantankerous Swiss émigré-turned-Canadian-Sasqualogist, René Dahinden. He also profiles other flamboyant and larger-than-life characters like Fortean writer Ivan Sanderson and Texas oil millionaire Tom Slick (whom we learn had ties to political intelligence organizations).
The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution
by David Rains Wallace
This book, a classic of natural history, is an outlier on my list as it’s not about Sasquatch per se. The work chronicles nature writer David Rains Wallace's backpacking journeys through the Siskiyou Wilderness of Northern California — reportedly a region of intense Bigfoot activity. At points in the narrative, Wallace muses philosophically about forest giants, their place in the grand scheme of nature, and their relation to the human race and evolution. His poetic prose about the region, a place of deep ecological complexity and subtlety, coupled with his spirited, mystical ideas about its giant denizens, captures something of the deep essence of what the Sasquatch is and means.
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is a writer, photographer, and journalist drawn to stories about adventure and far-flung parts of the world. He has worked in over two dozen countries and spent years as a journalist in the Middle East. His work has appeared in the Globe & Mail
, Toronto Star
, CBC, Al Jazeera, BBC, Los Angeles Review of Books
, and elsewhere. In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond
is his first book. He lives in Toronto, Canada.