“Badluck Way – A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West” by Bryce Andrews

This book is so good I don’t know where to begin. Andrews recounts his year (2006 – 2007) as a cowboy on a ranch next to Yellowstone National Park, where wolves were reintroduced in the 1990s. “Conservation ranching” was intended to permit the coexistence of wolves and cattle. Andrews got caught up in the harsh battles that this experiment precipitated.

One literary device that Andrews has totally mastered is foreshadowing. I could feel the violence gathering, but didn’t know what was going to happen. The climax of the book carries tidal wave force. 

Andrews’ descriptions of land, animals and plants are detailed and vivid. He also discusses ranch work extensively. I can’t imagine how three men carried so much responsibility. Andrews slept out many nights, on the ground or in a truck bed, to protect the cattle herds.

I’m glad I read this book in hard copy (thank you, public Library) because I frequently needed to refer to the map of the ranch.

I’m going to nominate this book as a future “common reading” at my College. It’s engaging. It could lead to productive discussion in a wide range of classes – ecology, political science, sociology, public policy, business, geography and more. Psychologically, it’s an account of personal growth and reaction to challenges. It deals with an important conundrum which is unresolved.

It’s hard to think of another book that presents both sides of a difficult situation with so much depth. This could be one of the new “environmental classics” I’ve been seeking.

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