The Fair Chase

The Epic Story of Hunting in America


By Philip Dray

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An award-winning historian tells the story of hunting in America, showing how this sport has shaped our national identity.

From Daniel Boone to Teddy Roosevelt, hunting is one of America’s most sacred-but also most fraught-traditions. It was promoted in the 19th century as a way to reconnect “soft” urban Americans with nature and to the legacy of the country’s pathfinding heroes. Fair chase, a hunting code of ethics emphasizing fairness, rugged independence, and restraint towards wildlife, emerged as a worldview and gave birth to the conservation movement. But the sport’s popularity also caused class, ethnic, and racial divisions, and stirred debate about the treatment of Native Americans and the role of hunting in preparing young men for war.

This sweeping and balanced book offers a definitive account of hunting in America. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of our nation’s foundational myths.



They say bear is tastiest in late fall because the animals have been feeding for weeks on acorns, but it was pelts my friends wanted. It was early morning when luck blessed us: a she-bear and her cubs at the edge of a swamp. We cut the canoe in sharply toward shore and muffled our paddles, and not until we beached did the three of them run, the two cubs scrambling to the top of a tree, where they commenced to whine like puppies. Mama bruin doubled back the moment she missed her offspring, and faced us, partly rising on her hind legs. Swanson brought his rifle at his shoulder, and at the flash she fell where she’d stood. We went over and were looking at her black coat, when suddenly instead of a dead bear we had a very live one, and the way George and I got out of reach was very rapid but inelegant. Swannie fidgeted too long with his gun, or so it seemed; finally he fired, and she was ours for good.

The boys began taking the skin, and then George decided he also wanted a cub, both of whom were still cowering in the treetop. A shot to the head brought one tumbling down. Seeing this gave Rusty “bear fever,” and he declared he wanted the other cub alive. With some difficulty they shook him out of the tree.

Once the mother bear was skinned we took the live cub with us, but the little bear would not sit still in the boat, so we let him go. He seemed tame enough then, and I stroked him on the back before he disappeared in the bushes. We floated down to Rainbow Lake, landed and George soon had a splendid trout dinner cooked…

That night when the fire was fading Old Sturgis stopped by. He must have been about eighty, smoked a long Churchwarden pipe, and owned property thereabouts: a local character. When we mentioned our encounter with the bear and the cubs he puffed thoughtfully for a moment, and said, “It reminds me of an incident up here long ago.”

The four of us exchanged glances. We were already in our sleeping bags and bone-tired; no one was in the mood for one of his stories; but then he said, “Had to do with a panther.”

“A panther?” we exclaimed.

“Solitary creatures,” he nodded, loading the pipe, “but abundantly sly.” I doubt he even noticed our sudden interest, or maybe he took it for granted, for he was already lost in reminiscence. “It was late in the fall, about this time of year, 1957. My brother Dick and I had come up with a new rifle he wanted to try. On our third day out we were just south of the falls when Dickie glassed a monstrous buck on the far side of the lake. When we crossed over we tracked him 1,000 yards up an old dry-wash and then not only lost him but ourselves, too. That evening Dick had to go back to town but I stayed on, determined to meet that deer again.

“Night fell and I made camp next to a stream, just a mile or so from where we sit now. I built a fire and slept like the dead, but sometime during the night, long after my fire had gone cold, I awoke to one of the strangest sensations.”

“What was it?” I asked.

“Leaves; branches of dry leaves were being heaped upon me. I opened one eye long enough to see the panther slink off. She was trying to hide what she took for choice carrion: me!

“Well, I resolved not to become anyone’s supper and to oppose cunning with cunning. I found a thick bough of a fallen tree and dragged it to the fire, put some leaves atop it, then went and hid behind a rock. She appeared before long, followed by two hungry cubs. Slowly she crept to within fifteen paces of the spot where she had left me covered up with leaves, and crouched down with her green eyes glaring at the log; the next instant she made a spring, struck the claws of both her fore feet into it, and buried her sharp fangs deep in the rotten wood.

“Boys, the look on her face when she found herself deceived! She stayed for a moment in the same attitude, quite confounded. But I did not leave her time to deliberate; I put a bullet right into her brain, and down she dropped.”

“Jesus! What if you’d missed?”

“Oh, I hate to think.”

“And what happened to the cubs?”

“I never knew,” he said. “They’re likely all grown up and lurking around here even now,” he said for effect, at which we all laughed, as we inched our beds a little closer together.

When he’d left I asked Swanson if what the old codger had told us could possibly be true. “No,” he yawned. “Go to sleep…”

Next morning we were all up just before sunrise, dressed, and after some barely warmed-up coffee walked out to the big meadow where deer were said to browse. We separated. I chose a large black walnut tree to settle under, the field slanting downhill before me and a small creek murmuring behind. Perhaps I dozed. Then as the sky lightened there came the sound of animals waking: yard dogs barking; the tinkle of a goat’s bell; some lambs mewing from over the ridge; out of the woods came a snorting sound, likely an elk or a deer. But I saw no deer, only listened to a woodpecker hammering away down in the valley.

I watched mourning doves alight in a crabapple tree, and a squirrel run along a limb, his cheeks full. Later I glimpsed a doe and her fawn walking far off through goldenrod. She must have winded me because she moved away with the special nimbleness of her kind; and I saw with admiration how she waited, her large ears now fully rounded-out and her manner curious, slightly petulant, for the baby to come up. They seemed very smug for a moment, the two of them, trotting off without a care and leaving me there by myself. Now I looked for my gun and turned to go. It had been a fine morning hunt…1

As a boy I devoured stories like these, occasionally beneath the covers by flashlight, enthralled by the hunter’s stealthy advance into the nonhuman world, the sudden stir of leaves, and the well-made shot. All of Minnesota then seemed connected to the sport: antlered deer and moose stared down from the wood-paneled walls of local restaurants; one could buy a box of shotgun shells at many filling stations, and everywhere, even at the end of city blocks, paths led away to woods or wetlands. From an early age I heard the implied summons to wilderness in the state’s enchanted nickname, “the Land of Sky Blue Waters.” And it was with a sense of determination akin to pilgrimage that our first family vacation included a stop at the Hotel Duluth, where in 1929 a hungry black bear had smashed violently through a plate glass window and entered the coffee shop, the premises of which now displayed the intruder as a stuffed tourist attraction.

Despite my fascination with brute nature, casting for sunfish in Minneapolis’s small city lakes with a Zebco “Junior” rod and reel was as close to it as I came; once the Beatles entered my life, my interests were permanently redirected. I never did learn to shoot, and soon after college I moved away from the Upper Midwest hunt country. It was after writing several books about prominent social justice issues, however, that I began to wish for a subject that was less overtly political, yet whose trajectory was braided firmly through our country’s social, cultural, and political history.

Hunting, though it has often been a means of subsistence, is also America’s oldest recreation, and thus seemed ripe for the kind of survey I had in mind. Over the past half-century, unfortunately, the subject has become something of a polarizing “red state/blue state” issue, but my hunch was that beyond the at-times vociferous rhetoric surrounding it lay a history that was in fact unifying and widely shared. My own youthful recollection of its allure hinted at such a possibility.

This book’s objective, then, is to go beyond the present-day cultural battles regarding hunting, and those of gun and animal rights generally, to explore what hunting’s history has to tell us—about the country’s legends, its faith in manifest destiny; its evolving views on nature, wildlife, Native Americans and the concept of race; its love of sports and leisure; its notions of self-reliance and manhood—in short, about nothing less than the shaping of our national temperament.


The Nature of the Beast

IT ALL BEGAN, AS THEY SAY, LONG AGO. IN THE MID-EIGHTEENTH century, Scottish economist Adam Smith put forward a historical perspective known as the four stages theory. Humanity, he said, had advanced initially through an age of hunting, followed by an age of herding and then one of agriculture, before entering the age of commerce. Smith’s theory was purely conjectural; but in 1925, Australian anatomist Raymond Dart informed the world that the fossil skull of a child with a combination of apish and human features, found in a cave in Taung, South Africa, belonged to an extinct species of hominid that “had walked upright, with its hands free for the manipulation of tools and weapons.” Dart, who named the species Australopithecus africanus, noted that South Africa’s open veldt country, where the Taung Child had been found, was inhabited by “dangerous beasts” and quite far from the forested areas that were usually the home of apes and chimpanzees. The challenges of survival in this semiarid plain had led Australopithecus, who had lived 2.5 million years ago, to develop bipedalism, a larger brain, and an active interest in new sources of food, the result a struggle involving “swiftness and stealth… a fierce and bitter mammalian competition” and a “laboratory… essential to this penultimate phase of human evolution.”1

Dart’s claims about this missing link between man and ape, which he described in the February 7, 1925, issue of the British journal Nature, were not immediately accepted, but the idea that Australopithecus africanus had hunted and killed other animals would gain considerable credence and scientific consensus over time. Some of the baboon skulls he examined from the site had been bludgeoned, suggesting the animals were killed by a club—most likely, Dart speculated, the large leg bone of an antelope—and then butchered with other sharpened animal bones. “Man’s predecessors differed from living apes in being confirmed killers,” Dart wrote in a later series of papers (The Predatory Transition from Ape to Man [1953]). “Carnivorous creatures, [they] seized living quarries by violence, battered them to death, tore apart their broken bodies, dismembered them limb from limb, slaking their ravenous thirst with the hot blood of victims and greedily devouring livid writhing flesh.”2

Unpleasant stuff. Yet Dart’s imaginative theories proved a starting point for an extensive conversation among anthropologists over what has become known as the hunting hypothesis, the belief that early man’s long experience as a hunter, said to have occupied at least 99 percent of his prehistory in contrast to his 1 percent as an agriculturalist, explains his physiological development as well as his social organization. The pursuit of ever-larger game would have necessitated not only greater individual physical and mental powers, but the ability to coordinate with others to manage the hunt itself as well as the eventual sharing and preservation of meat. The adaptation to hunting, “in its total social, biological, technical, and psychological dimensions, has dominated the course of human evolution for hundreds of thousands of years,” anthropologists Sherwood Washburn and Chet Lancaster concluded in 1968. “In a very real sense our intellect, interests, emotions, and basic social life—all are evolutionary products of [this] success.” Hunting not only developed civilization, Washburn and Lancaster posited, but its uniformity, for “the selection pressures of the hunting and gathering way of life were so similar and the result so successful that populations of Homo sapiens are still fundamentally the same everywhere.”3

Both the hunting hypothesis and the suggestion that, on account of this heritage, modern man is hard-wired as a killer, found full articulation in the aftermath of the Second World War and the beginnings of the atomic age. Playwright, screenwriter, and amateur anthropologist Robert Ardrey produced a series of articles on the topic for Life magazine, as well as several books, beginning with the influential African Genesis in 1961. Ardrey argued that violence had been so great a part of man’s makeup through the eons that it remained his key behavioral constant, a proposition that seemed justified by the upheavals of the 1960s—protests, assassinations, a genocidal war—connections made explicit in Why Are We in Vietnam (1967), Norman Mailer’s short, hallucinatory novel about sport hunting and American machismo. The subject of the human capacity for violence—its origins and too frequent casual commission in the modern world—would also be plumed in Truman Capote’s best-selling In Cold Blood (1966) and on-screen in such films as Bonnie and Clyde (1967), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Easy Rider (1969), Straw Dogs (1971), and Badlands (1973). “Millions of moviegoers in 1968 absorbed Dart’s whole theory in one stunning image from Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘2001,’” notes anthropologist Matt Cartmill, “in which an australopithecine who has just used a zebra femur to commit the world’s first murder hurls the bone gleefully into the air—and it turns into an orbiting spacecraft.”4

The hunting hypothesis has subsequently been challenged by those unwilling to ascribe modern man’s violent tendencies wholly to hunting genetics while ignoring other possible explanations—social inequality, and desperation borne of injustice, hunger, or displacement. Some researchers have also rejected as overly simplistic that part of the hunting hypothesis that suggests man hunted, developing superior athletic and spatial reasoning skills, while woman cooked, gathered, and nurtured the young. If, as many believe, a large share of early man’s diet was vegetable, then gathering, not hunting, was the primary activity and a major developmental aspect of our species, one in which women likely played a significant role. The same biological and intellectual changes attributed to hunting, such as bipedalism, cooperation, and the crafting of better tools, would have also been required for the success of primitive gathering societies. Indeed, agriculture, some argue, is a greater challenge and likely a stronger civilizing force than seminomadic hunting. “It is the farmer, not the hunter,” notes scholar Mary Zeiss Stange, “who approaches the world of nature as something over which he must seize control.”5

Yet the sense that hunting is something we are meant for remains an article of faith. Hunters characterize what they do as deeply instinctual—a way of being in and with nature that offers a connection to a life force so profound it defies articulation, a feeling of renewal found nowhere else, the “bliss that passes all understanding.” For the liberal Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, one of hunting’s patron thinkers, man’s longing to return to the hunt stems from the fact that it was as a hunter that he initially awakened to his potential mastery of the world. Every subsequent civilizing process has taken him away from that awakening, which the modern hunter reenters “by temporarily rehabilitating that part of himself which is still an animal.” This can be experienced “only by placing himself in relation to another animal… If we want to enjoy that intense and pure happiness, we have to seek the company of the surly beast, descend to his level, feel emulation toward him, pursue him. This subtle rite is the hunt.”6

IT APPEARS THAT HUMANS VERY EARLY ON ISOLATED FROM THEIR need to hunt the intense thrill of pursuing live game; from antiquity through the Middle Ages, hunting evolved as sport. In seventeenth-and eighteenth-century America, outside of a few Virginia gentlemen (such as George Washington) who rode to hounds, there was little sport hunting per se. Most was based on subsistence or profits. With the growth of cities and industry, however, the sporting impulse awoke. Promoted as a means of restoring virility and verve to urban men stuck in the doldrums of office, shop, or mill, and reflecting a new courage and curiosity about nature, American sport hunting drew on diverse influences—the “true sportsmanship” ethos of the British hunt, the deadeye heroics of frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, and the forest knowledge and stealth of the Native American. Literary heroes, such as Natty Bumppo, inspired it as well, as did, eventually, such mountain men as Jim Bridger and the legendary buffalo hunter William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who took his first crack at a deer in the Adirondacks in 1858, termed the nation’s new love of the invigorating outdoors “the joyous change.”

One notable feature of the sport was its adherence to an evolving code of ethics that would eventually be known as fair chase, the idea that hunted animals must have a chance to evade or flee their pursuers, and that they were to be taken only under certain sporting rules and conditions. By the 1870s, the call of the gentlemanly hunt was something of a worldview, a faith endorsed by magazines, newspapers, and hundreds of new sportsmen’s groups, and even preached from the nation’s pulpits. Newly armed and outfitted Americans took to the woods.

Such editorial enthusiasm was matched by commerce. Along with sporting clubs and shooting societies came Pendleton, Abercrombie & Fitch, Remington, Smith & Wesson, and a bounty of sports-related items—from heavy boots and jackets (with deep pockets for shotgun shells) to canoes, drinking flasks, and wooden duck decoys. Also for sale were hunting excursions by rail or steamboat and the services of innkeepers, guides, and taxidermists. A robust literature of hunting stories, memoirs, and humorous tales appeared, accompanied by what would become known as “the hook and bullet press,” sports-related periodicals whose news and advice covered everything from fishing lures to the kinds of retrievers best suited for grouse hunting.

Remarkably, even from the sport’s earliest days in America, voices urged the need to respect and protect wildlife’s seasons of procreation, and cautioned against the decimation of hunted species. In the 1880s, organized efforts coalesced through sportsmen’s clubs and the advocacy of influential periodicals, most notably Forest and Stream, to safeguard wildlife and natural places, from which grew a broader application of restraint and stewardship—the conservation movement—as well as the political will to place limits on hunting and create America’s first wildlife preserves and national parks.

The growth of the sport’s popularity, its emergence as a subject in the arts—in literature, painting, and commercial applications, such as furniture carvings and wallpaper design—and the channeling of hunting’s energies into a more genial “capturing” of the West through photography, paleontology, and conservation, belong to an eventful historical process. Yet hunting has largely been neglected as a topic of historical inquiry in America. This may reflect the reduced participation in the sport over the last half-century and its abandonment by elites, as well as evolving views of nature and people’s changing values regarding diet, animal ethics, the use of firearms, and what constitutes recreation. Such cultural shifts allow what I call “the Age of Fair Chase,” the decades between the post–Civil War era and the Eisenhower 1950s, in which sport hunting was a widely accepted pastime and family tradition, to more readily come into focus.

This book introduces many of that story’s leading protagonists and relates how they and the animals they pursued came to influence American society and imagination. It asks why the sport was promoted so assiduously and taken up by so many people; why it clicked so readily with journalists, artists, scientists, and clergy. It explores the ways hunting informed advances in weapons design and the natural sciences, and tells the parallel story of the growth of animal protection societies and changing public attitudes regarding extinction, evolution, and what historian William Cronon calls “the autonomy of nonhuman nature.” Finally, it examines hunting’s links to notions of manhood and self-reliance, while also weighing present-day cultural battles regarding guns and animal rights.7

America’s love affair with sport hunting led to enhanced appreciation of the great outdoors, and to public acceptance of the need for management of wildlife populations and wilderness; but it also contributed to the wholesale slaughter of birds and animal species, and nourished the myth that the hunters’ dominance over living prey prepared them uniquely to be also conquerors of other men. “We are a nation of hunters and frequenters of the forest, plains, and waters,” President Theodore Roosevelt once declared. “No form of labor is harder than the chase, and none is so fascinating or so excellent a training-school for war.” Some hunter-conservationists, most notoriously Boone and Crockett Club member Madison Grant, extended their nature stewardship to irresponsible pseudo-scientific speculation about the alleged inferiority of racial and ethnic categories of humans.

My approach has been to not only look back, but to see where this historically beloved form of recreation has brought us. Does the legacy of hunting have anything to say about current wildlife management issues, such as the government-funded eradication of animal pests, efforts to control deer populations, the designation of endangered species, or the controversial reintroduction of large animal predators? Can the moral compass of fair chase, forged in America’s rustic past, offer any direction now for environmental crises global in scale? What of the hunter himself? Has his sport been made an anachronism, replaced by newer forms of outdoor recreation? How did the respected weekend sportsman of a half-century ago become the reviled trophy hunter of today? And if hunting has moved from mainstream to marginal, what can be said of its devotees—the approximately 4 to 6 percent of Americans who are licensed hunters, as well as the upward of 70 percent of nonhunters who say they approve of it as a legitimate sport?8

Ultimately, can we ever fully understand our nation’s character if we do not begin to recognize the indelible mark left upon it by our love of the hunt? The Fair Chase will explore possible answers as it relates the story of the country’s most enduring romance.

Chapter One

The Prophet

IN AMERICA’S CENTENNIAL YEAR OF 1876, THE NATION CELEBRATED, reviewed with pride its eventful first century, and decided, in this broader moment of self-examination, to at last do right by the mortal remains of its founding sport hunter: Henry William Herbert. Using the pen name Frank Forester, he had been one of the country’s first outdoors writers and had almost singlehandedly awakened American interest in the hunt. To his old friends, as well as the many admirers devoted to his books, it seemed neglectful and irresponsible that he had lain for almost two decades in an unmarked grave in Newark, New Jersey.

Of course, there was the fact that he had asked to be there—in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, adjacent to his home, “The Cedars,” on the Passaic River north of town. As Herbert had been in life such an exacting person, and had left specific instructions before committing suicide in 1858, until now no one had dared question the arrangement. “Remember, when you judge me,” he had written in farewell, “that of all lives mine has been the most unhappy. No counselor, nor friend, no country has been mine for six and twenty dreary years; every hope has broken down under my foot as soon as it touched it; every spark of happiness has been quenched as soon as it has been handled.” To make certain nobody missed the point, he had insisted that the Latin term Infelicissimus (“Most Unhappy”) be inscribed upon his tombstone.

In many respects Herbert’s life had been, as he asserted, a mess, one large regret (among several): despite his considerable intellectual gifts and his prolific output of novels, histories, biographies, and poems, he had never won serious literary recognition. Rather, his reputation rested on his sporting tales and guides to fishing and hunting, which he had published under his nom de chasse. Now, eighteen years after his death, his worst fears had been confirmed; his more purely literary efforts were forgotten, while his writings on the hunt were being read afresh by a new generation and proclaimed visionary in their elucidation of the pastime’s pleasures and meaning. Frank Forester Clubs had formed across the country, his works read by legions of shooting enthusiasts. “It would seem that the spirit of HERBERT is still with us, and ministers to the happiness, the instruction and the well-being of his fraternity, under the magic guise of ‘Frank Forester,’” noted a publisher engaged in the profitable business of keeping his sporting titles in print. “This kindly spirit let us ever cherish, if we would keep pure and unsullied the sport and sportsmanship of America, for the advancement of which he gave his finest works.”1

It was as a kind of prophet, then, that he was remembered, a Johnny Appleseed of sport hunting, but also as something of a martyr, for the curious thing (and there were many) about Herbert was that someone who derived such immense joy from sport in nature, and so excelled at sharing that delight, was made thoroughly miserable by everything else.


  • "How hunting came to hold an iconic place in American culture in the first place is an interesting tale, and in The Fair Chase Philip Dray explores it with a balance and fair-mindedness that is unusual for such a contentious subject...The great strength of this telling is the author's ability to see that little about his story is black and white."—Wall Street Journal
  • "Lively and compelling...A capacious and erudite history of the practice and meanings of hunting in American life...Written with sensitivity and bracketed with judgement, it describes a culture and asks questions, telling a story full of paradoxes and nuance...As an unrivaled history, and an admirably crafted bid to deepen dialogue between groups of Americans who might otherwise view one another as alien or out of touch, Dray's Fair Chase is a vital intervention."—New Republic
  • "Enlightening...The Fair Chase isn't a book about ethics and philosophy, but Dray does a fine job introducing his readers to the issues at play...He isn't afraid to lay out hard truths."
    New York Times Book Review
  • "An eloquent, thoughtful, and nuanced cultural history of American hunting."—Choice
  • "A fluid and fascinating history for hunters and nonhunters alike."—Garden & Gun
  • "Revealing...[Dray] does a marvelous job walking us, mostly chronologically, through nearly every aspect and controversy of hunting's long history, with themes of ethics ('fair chase, the idea that hunted animals must have a chance to evade or flee their pursuers') and conservation looming large throughout...A lively history that can be enjoyed by hunters and conservationists alike."—Kirkus
  • "In this well-written, wide ranging history that is at once literary and infused with a passion for wild things, Philip Dray reveals how American sportsmen have continually remade hunting in ways that both expressed and contributed to broader shifts in the nation's culture. An essential book for anyone who wants to understand the origins of our ongoing debates about hunting and wildlife."—Louis Warren, author of Buffalo Bill's America
  • "The Fair Chase is a comprehensive and delightful account of the mystique of sport hunting and firearms in our history. Philip Dray has given us a deeply researched epic story of hunting and the literary tradition that celebrates wilderness, the chase, iconic figures such as Daniel Boone and Sitting Bull, the hunter's code of ethics, the western in print and film, and the continuing romance of firearms, along with animal rights, and meditation on the future of hunting. This is history writing at its exciting best."—Robert Morgan, author of Lions of the West
  • "Less than ten percent of the population now hunts, but they still represent a large symbolic place in our national narrative. Philip Dray helps us understand why hunting and hunters continue to shape our ongoing debates about our relationship to wildlife, endangered species, and environmental policy. Given the dramatic changes in the management ethos of our natural resources brought on by the Trump administration, The Fair Chase is a timely and engaging reminder of what's at stake."—Jan E. Dizard, author of Going Wild and Mortal Stakes
  • "In The Fair Chase, Philip Dray tells the story, by turns appalling and inspiring, of hunting in the U.S. and how successive waves of media imagery transformed it from simple meat procurement into a recreational activity embodying shifting beliefs about the land and its European conquerors, animals and humans, and humanity and nature. No matter how you feel about hunters and hunting, this book will fascinate you and make you rethink your ideas."—Matt Cartmill, author of A View to a Death in the Morning
  • "In The Fair Chase, Philip Dray expertly guides his readers through one of the great American stories. Hunters and non-hunters alike will appreciate how Dray uses the chase to illuminate the central tensions and dilemmas of the American relationship with the natural world."—Karl Jacoby, author of Crimes Against Nature
  • "It is still a matter of debate as to how much hunting is in our DNA as individuals. As a nation, on the other hand, hunting is a basic building block, essential to our national story. Philip Dray traces the origins of our founding relationship with guns to today, when, while fewer people hunt, hunting and the politics it aligns with holds tremendous sway. Surveying huge tracts of history swiftly and concisely, Dray makes the largely overlooked point that for all the complicated emotions it incites, hunting may hold some answers to ways we might universally reconnect with a natural world that we are racing to destroy."—Robert Sullivan, author of Rats

On Sale
May 1, 2018
Page Count
416 pages
Basic Books

Philip Dray

About the Author

Philip Dray is a historian who has written or coauthored several books on American history and culture, including At the Hands of Persons Unknown, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Dray lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Learn more about this author