Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land (Hardcover)
For more than forty years the prairies of South Dakota have been Dan O’Brien’s home. Working as a writer and an endangered-species biologist, he became convinced that returning grass-fed, free-roaming buffalo to the grasslands of the northern plains would return natural balance to the region and reestablish the undulating prairie lost through poor land management and overzealous farming. In 1998 he bought his first buffalo and began the task of converting a little cattle ranch into an ethically run buffalo ranch.
Wild Idea is a book about how good food choices can influence federal policies and the integrity of our food system, and about the dignity and strength of a legendary American animal. It is also a book about people: the daughter coming to womanhood in a hard landscape, the friend and ranch hand who suffers great tragedy, the venture capitalist who sees hope and opportunity in a struggling buffalo business, and the husband and wife behind the ranch who struggle daily, wondering if what they are doing will ever be enough to make a difference. At its center, Wild Idea is about a family and the people and animals that surround them—all trying to build a healthy life in a big, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous land.
About the Author
Dan O’Brien is the author of numerous novels and memoirs, including Buffalo for the Broken Heart: Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch, winner of the Western Heritage Award for best nonfiction. His books Stolen Horses, Equinox, The Indian Agent, and The Contract Surgeon are available from the University of Nebraska Press.
“Wild Idea is a lyrical tribute to the idea of buffalo back on the plains, the rewards and challenges of putting them there. But it is so much more. It’s about all the life on the prairie, on the hardscrabble ranches and in the small towns. With this book, Dan secures his place as our modern prairie muse.”—Tom Brokaw, NBC journalist and author
“Dan O’Brien’s book strikes me as a gentle but badly needed confrontation. . . . Figuring out how to realign the way we live with the health of the ecological systems that support us is the single most important challenge of the twenty-first century, and that makes O’Brien’s book an essential meditation.”—Edward Norton, actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity
“Making strong, lasting connections between the rugged land and the strong people is a staple of life on the Great Plains. Dan O’Brien’s gift is helping people understand this connection and the basic and difficult truth that sustainable living is not simple; it is as matted and dense as the thick fur that defines the buffalo’s very nature.”—Tom Daschle, former U.S. senator from South Dakota and former U.S. Senate majority leader
"A deeply humane book that looks at ranching as a sustainable enterprise, a way of life more than an economic engine. . . . There may be plenty of disappointments out on the Plains, but this book is not one of them."—Kirkus
"[Wild Idea] is a sweet little sagebrush soap opera of extended family joys and travails."—Jim Sterba, Wall Street Journal
"[Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land is] a book that elegantly explores the tension between hope and futility in one man’s effort to kindle restoration on the Great Plains."—Carson Vaughan, High Country News