Eight Bears: Mythic Past and Imperiled Future (Hardcover)
A global exploration of the eight remaining species of bears—and the dangers they face.
Bears have always held a central place in our collective memory, from Indigenous folklore and Greek mythology to nineteenth-century fairytales and the modern toy shop. But as humans and bears come into ever-closer contact, our relationship nears a tipping point. Today, most of the eight remaining bear species are threatened with extinction. Some, such as the panda bear and the polar bear, are icons of the natural world; others, such as the spectacled bear and the sloth bear, are far less known.
In Eight Bears, journalist Gloria Dickie embarks on a globe-trotting journey to explore each bear’s story, whisking readers from the cloud forests of the Andes to the ice floes of the Arctic; from the jungles of India to the backwoods of the Rocky Mountain West. She meets with key figures on the frontlines of modern conservation efforts—the head of a rescue center for sun and moon bears freed from bile farms, a biologist known as Papa Panda, who has led China’s panda-breeding efforts for almost four decades, a conservationist retraining a military radar system to detect and track polar bears near towns—to reveal the unparalleled challenges bears face as they contend with a rapidly changing climate and encroaching human populations.
Weaving together ecology, history, mythology, and a captivating account of her travels and observations, Dickie offers a closer look at our volatile relationship with these magnificent mammals. Engrossing and deeply reported, Eight Bears delivers a clear warning for what we risk losing if we don’t learn to live alongside the animals that have shaped our cultures, geographies, and stories.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A cleareyed view of the world’s bears and the many threats they face.
— Kirkus Reviews
A definitive and magisterial account.… This book is essential reading about the ongoing Anthropocene collision between humanity and the rest of the natural world.
— James Balog, director of Earth Vision Institute and A.D. White Professor-at-Large, Cornell University
Eight Bears is science journalism at its best: thoroughly researched, carefully conceived, and vividly written. Highly recommended!
— Nate Blakeslee, author of American Wolf
Written with deep compassion and striking humor, Eight Bears provides a deep and clarifying understanding of our history of ursine kinship.
— Lyndsie Bourgon, author of Tree Thieves
At once heartbreaking and hopeful, steeped in science and rich in poetry, Eight Bears is an intrepid investigation into the harms we’ve inflicted upon bears—and proof that we still have the power to save our ursine brethren.
— Ben Goldfarb, award-winning author of Eager
With deep, on-the-ground reporting and vivid writing, Gloria Dickie takes readers from the historic mythologies that have made bears the most charismatic of megafauna to the lairs and laboratories where the future for each of the world’s eight ursine species is being written. Her book is as magnificent as the animals we meet in it.
— Michael Kodas, author of Megafire
In this insightful, absorbing book, Gloria Dickie not only introduces us to the eight remaining species of bears themselves but deftly connects the plight of each species to a much larger story: the story of our ancient, fraught, irreplaceable relationship with these astonishing animals.
— Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts
Gloria Dickie takes us on an intimate global journey into our tangled and absorbing relationship with bears, where fur brushes close to skin, where the stakes are high, and in which the future of bears is our future as well.
— Harley Rustad, author of Lost in the Valley of Death