BEARS AND MEN: A Gathering by William Mills

BEARS AND MEN: A Gathering

Email this review


An engaging and rich account of an expedition undertaken by a group of naturalists to photograph the polar bear in his native haunts in Hudson Bay. Mills, a nature photographer-cum-poet/novelist, has given us a multi-faceted book. On one level, it is a beauteous book of color photography of these 1,000-pound mammals. On another level, it is a narrative of the tribulations of men in the wilderness. On yet another, it is an extremely literate essay, written with a true poet's touch, on the relations between Man and Nature. The author laments that modern man has become insulated from the great fact of natural processes, and he approaches his expedition as a human need ""to feel some sense of wholeness. . .a retreat. . .to where elemental chores can assume their rightful preeminence: sleeping and eating; chopping wood to keep warm and to cook with; immersing oneself in sensory experience, as opposed to a chair-ridden 'mentalness.'"" He tells of an Eskimo legend wherein the raven created men and women and plants and animals for them to eat. Then, he created the bear, ""because he felt that if he didn't create something to make men afraid, they would destroy everything he had made to inhabit the earth."" Indeed, Mills' party spends most of its time cooped up in their buggy-to be too far from safety for even a few minutes could be suicidal, as the hungry bear, able to run up to 30 miles per hour, is deadly for an unarmed man. An artful book with a wealth of allusions--historical, cultural, and personal--to complement his natural tale. Stunning photographs add wonder to Mills' masterful writing.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1986
Publisher: Algonquin