University of Alaska PRESS

Wild Moments – Press Kit

Wild Moments: Adventures with Animals of the North

Edited by Michael Engelhard

Wild Moments
Adventures with Animals of the North
Edited by Michael Engelhard
University of Alaska Press
(February 2009)
$21.95 (paper) 240 pages
ISBN 978-1-60223-048-4
Click here to order.

Even in our technological age, run-ins with wildlife—whether in urban or wilderness settings—rupture daily routines. They delight or dismay but hardly ever leave us unmoved. Not unlike us and often within sight of our doorsteps or tents, wild animals court, mate, give birth, raise their young, fight, play, build, forage, and die. We cherish these chance meetings and continue to fashion them into stories that remind us of fundamentals: Our heritage. Our connections. Our responsibilities.

Wild Moments brings readers face to face with the North’s incredible fauna, through accounts by the best of contemporary nature writers that transcend the mere hunting-and-fishing or natural history narrative. The book’s 33 selections showcase different species and capture wild animals in their essence: the magic and unpredictability, the humor, the pathos, the offbeat, bone-and-gristle, the smell of blood and the softness of fur. Crows battle each other, and bears pilfer fruit; a trapped marten rubs shoulders with a drowning whale; dive-bombing goshawks mingle with feisty seals. In many of these stories the personal intersects the political, but all of the writers are stalking bigger game with their pens: a glimpse of nature, including our own, reflected in the lives of fellow beings. Smart, witty, wise, perplexed or enchanted but always engaged, their voices mix in a chorus as polyglot as the menagerie they describe.

While these essays are rooted in landscapes known intimately by only few people, each touches upon universal themes—the desires and dilemmas, fears and choices that spring from our tangling with wildness. Above all, they remind us what is at risk of being lost.

In 2008, news headlines proclaimed that, irreversibly, by 2050 two thirds of the world’s polar bears, including every last specimen in the United States, would perish as a result of melting sea ice. Put differently, cubs emerging this spring from dens along the Beaufort Sea might be the last generation of Alaska polar bears. Other populations are likely to follow in similar declines or have already preceded them, like the belugas of Cook Inlet, North Slope muskoxen, and Aleutian sea otters. Before long, wildlife and people in more moderate latitudes will be affected.

About the Editor

Editor Michael Engelhard at Gulliver's Books in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Editor Michael Engelhard at Gulliver's Books in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Michael Engelhard has authored and edited several books of nature writing, including Redrock Almanac and Where the Rain Children Sleep. A cultural anthropologist by training, he migrates between the Colorado Plateau and Alaska, where he works as a wilderness guide. His fascination with wildlife attests to the incorruptibly feral side of Homo sapiens.


Contributors to Wild Moments include:
Nancy Behnken - illustrator, Mary Burns, Douglas H. Chadwick, Craig Childs, James Michael Dorsey, Lynn DeFilippo, Michael Engelhard, Maria Finn, Erling Friis-Baastad, Daniel Glick, Jo Going, Jennifer Hahn, Daniel Henry, Karsten Heuer, Marybeth Holleman, Nick Jans, Kaylene Johnson, Loretto Jones, Steve Kahn, Carol Kaynor, Hank Lentfer, Nancy Lord, Christine Lowther, Jo-Ann Mapson, Debra McKinney, Debbie S. Miller, Richard Nelson, Nita Nettleton, Drew Pogge, Ned Rozell, Carolyn Servid, Peggy Shumaker, Ana Maria Spagna

Wild Moments is published under the Snowy Owl Books imprint of the University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, Alaska.

Praise for Wild Moments

This is top-drawer nature writing—there’s not a clunker in the bunch.
— Editor's Choice, Audubon Magazine, January-February 2010. Click here to read the complete review.

This book ignites the magic of animal encounters in the wild woolly North. Read it and be transported.
— Bernd Heinrich, author of The Snoring Bird and Mind of the Raven

The soul of the North lives in its creatures, and Wild Moments distills those heart-stopping moments when their lives and ours intersect. Whether it’s an encounter with an angry grizzly or an indomitable wolverine, a boy’s first salmon or the last musk ox of a dying herd, these stories—written by some of the best North Country writers of natural history—are a glimpse at the fierce, vital heart of the continent’s roof.
— Scott Weidensaul, author of Return to Wild America and Of a Feather

The delightful essays assembled by Michael Engelhard in Wild Moments make the creatures of the North accessible to everyone, even to those who will never see them firsthand. These stories remind us of what is at stake as wild landscapes shrink and the climate changes, and of our responsibility to take up the causes of animals that are dependent on the frozen back-of-beyond.
— Stan Senner, Audubon Alaska

Wild Moments is a window into animal encounters and the thoughtful humans relaying those. This book provides enlightening visits with animals and people, far-flung across the country of caribou and bear, snow geese and ground squirrels, salmon and whales. All without even having to shovel out your own door.
—Seth Kantner, author of Ordinary Wolves and Shopping for Porcupine

The stories collected in Wild Moments vividly evoke the compelling landscape of the far North. They remind us of the ecological and cultural importance of a place where survival depends on cooperation between humans, on animals, and on respect for the forces of nature—and why what happens in this exquisitely sensitive part of the world ultimately matters to all of us.
— Elizabeth Grossman, author of Watershed and coeditor of Shadow Cat

Wild Moments is not so much a collection of stories about encounters with wild animals as it is an account of the love affair that blooms when animals allow us into the space where their world overlaps our own. And like any good love affair, it is not so much a single event as it is a compendium of moments that span a full continent of experiences and emotions. Wonder and elation abound in Karsten Heuer’s Calving; Hank Lentfer’s account of cranes in migration is a pitch-perfect tale of subdued affection; in Porcupine Wars, Debra McKinney charts the almost-parental transformation of irritation into love through the deft alchemy of humor. And lest we disregard the Gothic side of love, there is the heartbreak of Steve Kahn’s Heart Underfoot and the murderous dysfunction of Daniel Henry’s crows. These and more than two dozen other stories by some of the best writers in the Northwest provide a heady tale of love that is worthy of space on any wildlife lover’s shelf.
— Lynn Schooler, author of The Blue Bear

Wild Moments is the next best thing to being there. The poignant stories flowing from our interaction with these “other nations” are reminders that America’s last wildlife haven is at risk of being lost to the juggernaut of development. That is, unless we decide together that endless wild moments are worth more than quick fixes to long-term problems.
— John Toppenberg, Alaska Wildlife Alliance

Read a book review of Wild Moments from New West Books & Writers

Michael Engelhard was interviewed on Alaska News Nightly, Alaska Public Radio Network

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