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

Narrated by: Will Damron
Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
5 out of 5 stars (74 ratings)
Regular price: $24.95
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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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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.

4 of 4 people found this review 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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 2 people found this review 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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 5 people found this review 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!

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  • Jeffrey
  • Herndon, Virginia, United States
  • 02-17-19

Beavers are awesome

Beavers, as this book shows, are critical for restoring our environment. However I will say that although this book gives great details and interviews to support that, one thing I thought was completely lacking was the discussion of the mosquito. I understand the dragonflies eat mosquitoes in that beaver ponds are great places to produce dragonflies, but it seems to me that if we have all these ponds we would have all these mosquitoes breeding in them, more than any dragonfly swarm could consume and this more than anything is what I worry about with a castorid take over. However, I really liked the discussion of the two beaver species, especially the brief discussion of recovery in Eurasia, and all the great trials and tribulations of restoring them in the New World. My only other net would be that the chapters are far too long in the audible edition. Are usually listen to the book and 20 minute chunks on my daily commute, and it’s very frustrating to have to take two days to finish a chapter. But of course, overall I quite enjoyed it and that’s why I give it five stars.

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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.