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Richard Nelson is a cultural anthropologist whose previous books include Shadow of the Hunter, Hunters of the Northern Forest, Hunters of the Northern Ice, Make Prayers to the Raven, and The Island Within, for which he won the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding natural history writing. He is also a winner of the Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction.
In his work among Alaskan native peoples, anthropologist Nelson came to admire their relationship with the environment and sought to emulate it. Thus his exploration of an island off the Pacific Northwest coast is a search for a way of belonging to its natural community, to be not only observer, but participant in its life cycle. Nelson tramps through forest and muskeg with his dog; he roams the beaches and chances solitary surfing. His numerous encounters with wildlife are rewarding, both for him and for the reader--here are falcons and bald eagles, brown bears, otters, seals, whales and spawning salmon. Living in an isolated area, Nelson depends on hunting and fishing for food, but he accords each animal he kills the respect taught him by the Alaskan natives. Whether he is describing the remains of a clear-cut forest, a beached whale or a night in a petrel rookery, Nelson gives a notably sensitive portrait of island life. (Nov.)