American Buffalo - Steven Rinella

American Buffalo

By Steven Rinella

  • Release Date: 2008-12-02
  • Genre: Nature
Score: 4.5
From 344 Ratings


From the host of the Travel Channel’s “The Wild Within.”

A hunt for the American buffalo—an adventurous, fascinating examination of an animal that has haunted the American imagination.
In 2005, Steven Rinella won a lottery permit to hunt for a wild buffalo, or American bison, in the Alaskan wilderness. Despite the odds—there’s only a 2 percent chance of drawing the permit, and fewer than 20 percent of those hunters are successful—Rinella managed to kill a buffalo on a snow-covered mountainside and then raft the meat back to civilization while being trailed by grizzly bears and suffering from hypothermia. Throughout these adventures, Rinella found himself contemplating his own place among the 14,000 years’ worth of buffalo hunters in North America, as well as the buffalo’s place in the American experience. At the time of the Revolutionary War, North America was home to approximately 40 million buffalo, the largest herd of big mammals on the planet, but by the mid-1890s only a few hundred remained. Now that the buffalo is on the verge of a dramatic ecological recovery across the West, Americans are faced with the challenge of how, and if, we can dare to share our land with a beast that is the embodiment of the American wilderness.

American Buffalo is a narrative tale of Rinella’s hunt. But beyond that, it is the story of the many ways in which the buffalo has shaped our national identity. Rinella takes us across the continent in search of the buffalo’s past, present, and future: to the Bering Land Bridge, where scientists search for buffalo bones amid artifacts of the New World’s earliest human inhabitants; to buffalo jumps where Native Americans once ran buffalo over cliffs by the thousands; to the Detroit Carbon works, a “bone charcoal” plant that made fortunes in the late 1800s by turning millions of tons of buffalo bones into bone meal, black dye, and fine china; and even to an abattoir turned fashion mecca in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, where a depressed buffalo named Black Diamond met his fate after serving as the model for the American nickel.

 Rinella’s erudition and exuberance, combined with his gift for storytelling, make him the perfect guide for a book that combines outdoor adventure with a quirky blend of facts and observations about history, biology, and the natural world. Both a captivating narrative and a book of environmental and historical significance, American Buffalo tells us as much about ourselves as Americans as it does about the creature who perhaps best of all embodies the American ethos.


  • Pure Americana

    By cwrath
    What a great read! Steve does a fantastic job of weaving the history and significance of the “American Buffalo” into a great adventure. I started reading this during the evenings on a successful DIY sheep with my son after he would fall asleep. It gave me cause to reflect on the importance of conservation and the reverence we need to hold for animals we choose to hunt.
  • American Buffalo

    By jojohunter 07
    What an amazing read !!!! Packed full of amazing historical content and fascinating description of his hunt !!!!!
  • Incredible read

    By Bazinga62
    I read this book in two nights. Could not put it down. It captures your imagination from the very first page. If you enjoy American history, nature, hunting and want to live through an incredible adventure vicariously, then this is the book for you.
  • Great book

    By Sib Sab
    It's a great book. It showed the history of the buffalo which would make any history nerd happy. It was very detailed which is useful for the imagination.
  • Incredible Book

    By Disturb3d 4 Lif3
    The way the book is written is more like you are having a conversation with Steve himself. I love Steve and his values towards hunting and the outdoors. There is an excellent balance of the history of the American Buffalo intertwined with Steve’s personal story. Absolutely love this book.
  • Great history lesson

    By afdfd1234
    Very interesting history lesson of the American Buffalo along with Steve’s journey to harvesting his first and last one.
  • One the most interesting reads

    By Flos199)7
    Once I started, I couldn’t put the book down. I was sad when I finished it. Very well written, props to the author.
  • History and hunting

    By Mddiddy
    I was pleasantly surprised reading this book. Rinella is a great storyteller and comes through well in this one. Enough history to be educational and enough adventure to stay interesting. A well written and well thought out book, I should have read this years ago.
  • An American Tale

    By FullDrawFirefighter
    Enthralling read throughout. Steven Rinella takes us on a journey into the long and complex history of the Bison. While sharing his own experiences while hunting one in Alaska throughout.
  • Wow!

    By Mo thugs
    This book gave me chills! So honest and and well spoken.