The dialogue surrounding conservation in America tends to be presented as a war between ideological camps on the left-right ends of the political spectrum, with left-minded greens insisting that we must do everything at all costs to save any species we can, and conservative climate-change deniers refusing to accept the premise that our world is changing due to the role of modern humans.
The Wild Ones offers a nuanced view of a complicated issue, delving into the history of environmentalism and conservation in America (and Canada) through a series of case studies. What the author finds is that conservation is all too often a symbolic pursuit caught up in the symbol itself; we are caught wondering how we can engage with these animals in new contexts and still retain a meaning in our interactions with them.
The book is ultimately interested in how we use animals to tell stories about the world and about ourselves - what does it mean to be wild? The book is funny at times, grave at others, and thought-provoking throughout. In a rapidly changing world, it is important to consider what our role as the human animal can be, and should be.
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