Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

Narrated by: Will Damron
Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (635 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America's lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of "Beaver Believers" - including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens - recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. From the Nevada deserts to the Scottish highlands, Believers are now hard at work restoring these industrious rodents to their former haunts. 

Eager is a powerful story about one of the world's most influential species, how North America was colonized, how our landscapes have changed over the centuries, and how beavers can help us fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change. Ultimately, it's about how we can learn to coexist, harmoniously and even beneficially, with our fellow travelers on this planet.

©2018 Ben Goldfarb (P)2018 Chelsea Green Publishing

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Will Damron channels Ben Goldfarb's enthusiasm for beavers as saviors of the environment.... Damron's narration is warm, approachable, and energetic as Goldfarb moves from one fascinating fact to another with affection and wry humor. The next time you see a chewed stump, a warm and optimistic feeling will result." (AudioFile)

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, great info, reader was pretty good.

Great story, great info, reader was pretty good.
I had no idea beavers meant so much to the environment overall.
There is some repetitiveness to the information but it is a clearly well-researched book.
The guy who reads it has one of those slightly too enthusiastic voices but he did a good job making research on beavers sound interesting and he delivered the funny parts of the writing well, so that I laughed aloud several times.

26 people found this helpful

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A fine natural history and great listen

This entertaining book is full of first-person interviews, humor, and portraits of some quirky human and beaver personalities. It is also a fine and well-researched natural history. The author approaches the story of beavers from the point of view of a smart and curious layperson who has done a ton of homework. Because the beaver is a keystone species, you'll also learn about fish, birds, climate change, water quality and distribution, grazing on public lands, paleontology, and a number of other important environmental topics along the way. Highly recommended for anyone who loves nature and needs an inspiring story about natural resilience. Beavers are everywhere, so you will also probably learn about what's happening with beavers near you.

39 people found this helpful

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I didn't know how much I should know about beavers

An entertaining and extremely enlightening look into ecology as a whole. This book did such an amazing job illuminating the complexities and interconnectedness of many different ecosystems by focusing on the incredible impact of one little underappreciated rodent.

12 people found this helpful

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Educational and beautifully-written!

This book is an interesting and super accessible introduction and deep dive into the history, ecology, impact, and opportunity of beavers. Truly fascinating, impressively researched, and delightful to read. Recommended for environmentalists and laymen alike!

10 people found this helpful

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Beavers: Why they matter

No, you do not probably know as much as you should about beavers. How beavers have changed rivers and directed political policy in North America. These influences are in addition to how beavers can help mitigate many of the climate ills we face today. “Got drought? There’s a beaver for that” Goldfarb’s writes. Informative and witty you need this book just as the world needs beavers although you probably don’t know it yet.

13 people found this helpful

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Not a book about beavers

If you want to find out more about these fascinating creatures, look elsewhere. This book is about the ecological impact of beavers, not the animal itself. Nowhere does the author describe the lifecycle, behavior, or biology of these animals. How anyone can write a book ostensibly about beavers and skip all the amazing aspects of the animal itself is beyond me. The author is making a pitch for the reestablishment of the beaver into our eco system and the political impediments to that movement. It is fairly boring. I give it two stars only because it is obviously well researched. All of the five star reviews baffle me.

6 people found this helpful

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Ecological Restoration Extraordinaire

I listen mostly while driving and it was great overall. A bit gruesome at parts in the beginning with the incredible slaughter of beavers by trappers, etc. but inspiring at places where they now make a huge difference and could do more if people would just get out of their way!

8 people found this helpful

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could have been more

Lots of interesting tidbits. But, I think that the book suffers from a two issues that keep it from being on the same level as natural history books like American Serengeti, Coyote Nation, etc.
1) The coverage of beavers in the American west could have been halved.
2) The author is obviously anti-hunting, anti-trapping, and anti-uninformed rancher. It would have been nice for more charitable interpretations of the action of individuals within these groups and less blaming them for things that society as a whole shares the blame for

1 person found this helpful

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It depends on where they are

I am not eager about beavers chewing down trees on my farms or flooding, but it depends. This book gave me some better appreciation of beavers as ecological engineers and creators of green infrastructure.

History was interesting. Beavers were exceedingly common in pre-settlement North America. You can still see that in place names. Many of the most fertile fields were former beaver ponds.

Beaver ponds are transient. They silt up, become wetlands, then forests or prairies. Beaver move on. The useful part of their green infrastructure is that the beavers never stop. The challenge of beavers is that they never stop and they can flood lot of other places. Besides that, the beavers never "build to code." In places with human infrastructure, beavers are less welcome.

Beaver ponds slow water, help with flood control and help recharge aquifers. They provide wetland habitat & fields. On the other hand, they can be a real problem for irrigation systems, culverts, roads and buildings. Are they good or bad? It depends.

We cannot "re-beaver" all, most or even much of America, but we probably can benefit from using their never ending passion of making dams.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Satisfyingly detailed

Like most, I had no idea how important beavers are in the environment. Now I do. An object lesson in unforeseen consequences; I hope that beavers can help undo some of the destruction currently being caused by Zinke/Pruitt/Trump. Well-written, chatty at times, good narration. Hope Goldfarb writes more on ecology.

14 people found this helpful

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  • coz
  • 05-11-20

everything you ever wanted to know about beavers

I enjoyed this for its own sake and also for the number of times my family asked "more beavers?". it is a very US centric book with just a brief glimpse of British Beaverdom but it truly makes you aware of the history and potential impact these animals could have. Plus everyone should know how to determine the sex of a beaver don't you think?