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Review: American Buffalo, Steven Rinella

When Steven Rinella won a lottery to hunt for a buffalo in Alaska, he couldn’t believe his luck.  This book chronicles not only his hunt for his buffalo but the American obsession with buffalo and the way his own life is wrapped up with these massive creatures.

There are definitely three parts to this book, although they’re woven together.  Of them, I most enjoyed the bits about American history involving the buffalo.  It’s not something I know much about and not something I’m massively interested in, but for the short time it took me to read this 250 page book, the buffalo held my attention.  I knew that buffalo had been hunted to a very small percentage of their previous numbers, but never so much detail, and of course these are only the fun, interesting bits, like what happened to the bones that used to be everywhere on the prairies.  Second, I think, was just how Steven got to the point of hunting a buffalo in Alaska.  His discovery of a buffalo skull sent him on a journey to learn more about them and his eventual role as a hunter starts to make sense.

I did not, however, like the parts where Steven was hunting and butchering the buffalo.  I don’t think I realized it would be so graphic when I requested this one.  I’m one of those squeamish people who eats meat but I don’t really like to think about killing animals, hypocritical as that is.   So I mostly skimmed the bits about the interior of the buffalo and I wasn’t too happy about them.  If you’re okay with this, then there certainly isn’t a concern, but it does prevent me from recommending it completely.

To sum up, I liked the pop history, didn’t like the hunting.  That should tell you whether or not it’s worth a shot!

Buy American Buffalo on Amazon.

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7 comments to Review: American Buffalo, Steven Rinella

  • I wouldn’t like the hunting and butchering parts either.

  • I used to go hunting with my grandfather and was around for the butchering, so those parts didn’t gross me out. As I was reading it, I remember thinking that those parts might bother other readers.

  • I’ve been curious about this book. I took many anatomy labs in college and grad school; I can take the innards! My husband would probably like this too.

  • I’ve been curious about this book. I took many anatomy labs in college and grad school; I can take the innards! My husband would probably like this too.

  • I’m the same way about the hunting/butchering. Do you think he could’ve glossed-over those parts, or would that have harmed the integrity of the book?

  • This does look like an interesting book on the buffalo, but the actually hunting part and butchering would be hard to read.

  • Meghan

    I don’t know if he could have glossed over the hunting parts, although I probably would have enjoyed it more without them. They bring together the actual importance of the buffalo to mankind, as that sort of butchering is essentially its main relation to us, if that makes sense. His description may echo that of many past buffalo hunters. So, it is important. I just didn’t like it!