The Bald Eagle
The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird
Jack E. Davis
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Gulf, a sweeping cultural and natural history of the bald eagle in America.
The bald eagle is regal but fearless, a bird you’re not inclined to argue with. For centuries, Americans have celebrated it as “majestic” and “noble,” yet savaged the living bird behind their national symbol as a malicious predator of livestock and, falsely, a snatcher of babies. Taking us from before the nation’s founding through inconceivable resurgences of this enduring all-American species, Jack E. Davis contrasts the age when native peoples lived beside it peacefully with that when others, whether through hunting bounties or DDT pesticides, twice pushed Haliaeetus leucocephalus to the brink of extinction.
Filled with spectacular stories of Founding Fathers, rapacious hunters, heroic bird rescuers, and the lives of bald eagles themselves―monogamous creatures, considered among the animal world’s finest parents―The Bald Eagle is a much-awaited cultural and natural history that demonstrates how this bird’s wondrous journey may provide inspiration today, as we grapple with environmental peril on a larger scale.
Published by Liveright
Praise for The Bald Eagle
Davis, the Pulitzer-winning author of The Gulf, makes clear in his rollicking, poetic, wise new book that cultural and political history are an integral part of this natural history, not to be omitted if we want to tell the whole story…. Davis shines at most everything in this exuberantly expansive book, but especially at highlighting individual birds like the translocated ones making their way in the world. ― Vicki Constantine Croke, New York Times Book Review
An impressive work of scholarship . . . . if you have any questions about our national bird, Mr. Davis’s The Bald Eagle is a great place to look for answers. ― Bill Heavey, Wall Street Journal
In The Bald Eagle, Davis, who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Gulf, a clever history of ‘America’s Sea,’ has written a double biography: a history of the species and a history of the symbol…. A moving portrait of a species victimized for its own evolutionary successes. ― Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic
A feel-good story…. Davis deftly brings alive the bald eagle as a real animal, separate from both the myths of its rapaciousness and the symbolic majesty that at times has made the birds emblems for organizations ranging from the National Rifle Association to the National Wildlife Foundation. ― Matt Jaffe, San Francisco Chronicle
[A] soaring new book… The Bald Eagle is compelling and paints a dignified portrait of the famous bird, within and outside of American culture. … This is a history that turns the tables on Americans; the creature that embodied the scrappiness of the early nation is now a model of resilience we can only hope to emulate. ― Olive Fellows, Christian Science Monitor
Davis is a superb natural historian with a lyrical feel for the eagle’s world — its quirks, its habits and its extraordinary survival skills. He sketches vivid portraits of the artists, scientists and eagle-loving eccentrics who thought nothing of perching in a tree for weeks to document eagle ― Mary Ann Gwinn, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Splendid…. [Davis] is a meticulous historian and researcher as well as a master storyteller – an irresistible combination. ― Collette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
The author’s consistently lively, captivating narrative celebrates the naturalists, scientists, activists, artists (Andy Warhol, among them), politicians, and breeders who have championed the extraordinary “charismatic raptor.” A rousing tale of a species’ survival. — Kirkus, Starred Review
[A] sweeping history of America’s unofficial symbolic bird…This account soars. — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review Jack Davis shows us not only what bald eagles have meant to humans . . . but what it might feel like to be one. ― Jonathan Meiburg, author of A Most Remarkable Creature
In The Bald Eagle, Jack E. Davis pays magnificent tribute to the national symbol, weaving a richly layered story that spans the centuries and bridges patriotism, Native spirituality, environment carnage and, against all odds, ecological redemption that brought the eagle back to America’s skies. ― Scott Weidensaul, author of A World on the Wing
In this stunning and insightful history, Jack Davis tells the captivating story of the often-misunderstood emperor of the sky, of its place in the natural order, of its brush with extinction, and of the welcome return of its shadow passing over us from on high. ― Bill Souder, author of Under a Wild Sky