Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem
A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Lookingat Animals in America

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews

The book explores...issues while providing nuanced portraits of people who grapple with the idea of “wilderness” every day.
-NY Times


A New York Times Notable Book of 2013

"Ambitious and fascinating... [Mooallem] seamlessly blends reportage from the front lines of wildlife conservation with a lively cultural history of animals in America... This is not a book about wilderness; it’s a book about us." --New York Times Book Review

Journalist Jon Mooallem has watched his little daughter’s world overflow with animals butterfly pajamas, appliquéd owls—while the actual world she’s inheriting slides into a great storm of extinction. Half of all species could disappear by the end of the century, and scientists now concede that most of America’s endangered animals will survive only if conservationists keep rigging the world around them in their favor. So Mooallem ventures into the field, often taking his daughter with him, to move beyond childlike fascination and make those creatures feel more real. Wild Ones is a tour through our environmental moment and the eccentric cultural history of people and wild animals in America that inflects it—from Thomas Jefferson’s celebrations of early abundance to the turn-of the-last-century origins of the teddy bear to the whale-loving hippies of the 1970s. In America, Wild Ones discovers, wildlife has always inhabited the terrain of our imagination as much as the actual land.

The journey is framed by the stories of three modern-day endangered species: the polar bear, victimized by climate change and ogled by tourists outside a remote northern town; the little-known Lange’s metalmark butterfly, foundering on a shred of industrialized land near San Francisco; and the whooping crane as it’s led on a months-long migration by costumed men in ultralight airplanes. The wilderness that Wild Ones navigates is a scrappy, disorderly place where amateur conservationists do grueling, sometimes preposterous-looking work; where a marketer maneuvers to control the polar bear’s image while Martha Stewart turns up to film those beasts for her show on the Hallmark Channel. Our most comforting ideas about nature unravel. In their place, Mooallem forges a new and affirming vision of the human animal and the wild ones as kindred creatures on an imperfect planet.

With propulsive curiosity and searing wit, and without the easy moralizing and nature worship of environmental journalism’s older guard, Wild Ones merges reportage, science, and history into a humane and endearing meditation on what it means to live in, and bring a life into, a broken world.

--And don’t miss the album based on the book: WILD ONES by Black Prairie--

About Jon Mooallem

See more books from this Author
JON MOOALLEM has been a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine since 2006 and is a writer at large for Pop Up, the “live magazine” in San Francisco. He’s also contributed recently to The New Yorker, Harper’s, Wired, Radiolab, and This American Life. His magazine stories have twice been included in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and he’s been interviewed about his work on a wide range of radio and television shows, including Fresh Air and The Colbert Report.
Published May 16, 2013 by Penguin Books. 353 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Travel. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Wild Ones
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Reviewed by Meehan Crist on Jun 28 2013

The book explores...issues while providing nuanced portraits of people who grapple with the idea of “wilderness” every day.

Read Full Review of Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismay... | See more reviews from NY Times


on Apr 03 2013

An engaging nature/environment book that goes beyond simple-minded sloganeering.

Read Full Review of Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismay... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Reader Rating for Wild Ones

An aggregated and normalized score based on 95 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review