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Poliquin’s book is a natural history, an almanac of mythology and amusing anecdotes from the intermingled histories of beavers and humans. Reaktion has produced a library of animal books ranging from Albatross to Walrus . . . and Beaver is Poliquin’s worthy contribution . . . filled with handsome engravings and historic illustrations.
Despite their humble appearance, beavers have a remarkable history. Beavers were widely hunted for their skin, and were largely the reason for the early colonization of North America, as well as explorers’ westward expansion toward the Pacific coast. While the bison is the first animal that comes to mind when thinking of large groups of animals who were nearly hunted to extinction, the beaver was even more widely pursued, first being hunted in Eurasia and then later in North America. Early North American cultures passed down mythological tales involving beavers, and the beaver is one of the national symbols of Canada. The history of the continent and the beaver are very much intertwined, as it seems that one does not exist without the other.
Rachel Poliquin’s Beaver explores the storied history of this small, often-forgotten animal. Poliquin examines why the beaver has been hunted throughout the years, from its fur to the scent produced by its musk gland, as well as looking at the unique way in which beavers form their societies. She also discusses how beavers are not only builders but also architects, manipulating water and landscape to fit their needs for a home. Poliquin uncovers the nature of an animal not usually discussed at length, showing their true worth in the world today.
Beaver is sure to engage those who already admire this humble yet important animal, as well as interest those who wish to learn more of its rich natural and cultural history.