Audubon’s Wild West

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John James Audubon, revolutionary bird artist and founder of modern ornithology, traveled the American frontier in pursuit of his goals and recorded his adventures in voluminous journals. “No more extensive eyewitness testimony to the youthful United States…was ever written,” notes Daniel Patterson, editor and commentator of The Missouri River Journals of John James Audubon (University of Nebraska Press, $75). One of Audubon’s most exciting excursions was his 1843 trip to the Upper Missouri country, in search of western quadrupeds.

An indefatigable researcher, Patterson has unearthed portions of the original Missouri River journals, thought to have been destroyed by Audubon’s granddaughter after she produced her own, sanitized edition of his writings. Patterson compares the granddaughter’s version with the originals and includes superb commentary. Calling for a new look at Audubon’s attitudes on conservation, this is an important, groundbreaking work.

Nancy Plain, author of This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon

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