Anthropomorphism and sentimentality, the usual faults of animal biographies, are avoided here as the author draws on both his childhood memories and the recent research of ethologist Maurice Hornocker in recreating the life of Fells, one of the few surviving North American mountain lions. The descriptions of the young cougar confronting a wily badger or learning the hard way that deer are not always passive prey do much to destroy the still prevalent Stereotypes about ""bloodthirsty cats."" Man's animosity towards the cougar -- from superstition to the ""canned"" hunts which take place today -- is traced in a postscript, and the author drives home his conservationist message. Strangely, it's the presentation of background material which is least satisfactory; diffuse digressions on territoriality, evolution, food chains, and even lichens, tend to interrupt the flow of the cougar's story. Still, this leisurely encounter, augmented by excellent photographs, is as close as most of us will ever come to the ""ghost cat,"" and precise, affectionate observation compensates for the irrelevant lectures on elementary biology.