"Coyote America" is both an environmental and a deep natural history of the coyote. It traces both the five-million-year-long biological story of an animal that has become the wolf in our backyards, as well as its cultural evolution from a preeminent spot in Native American religions to the hapless foil of the Road Runner. A deeply American tale, the story of the coyote in the American West and beyond is a sort of Manifest Destiny in reverse, with a pioneering hero whose career holds up an uncanny mirror to the successes and failures of American expansionism.
An illuminating biography of this extraordinary animal, "Coyote America" isn t just the story of an animal s survivalit is one of the great epics of our time.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-04-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Flores (American Serengeti), emeritus professor of Western history at the University of Montana, looks at the coyote and its history on the North American continent in this educational volume. Having lived for a decade in the piñon-juniper mesas south of Santa Fe, N.Mex., “the evolutionary heartland of America’s native canines,” Flores considers the coyote’s howl “the original national anthem of North America”—one that dates back “nearly 1 million years.” He traces the animal’s roots, giving lessons on both physiology and mythology. “As a literary character,” Flores notes, the coyote is a “complex figure full of nuances of all sorts” as well as a “trickster who is forever falling for the oldest trick in the book.” Flores also presents accounts of coyotes in urban environments and their depictions in pop culture. For example, in Chicago during the 2007 heat wave, a coyote walked into a sandwich shop and jumped onto a freezer to cool down, to the surprise and amusement of employees and customers. Similarly, considerations of fictional characters such as Wile E. Coyote, introduced by Warner Bros. in 1949, provide entertaining counterpoints to the coyote’s status as “North America’s oldest surviving deity.” Flores’s mix of edification and entertainment is a welcome antidote to a creature so often viewed with fear. Illus. Agent: Melissa Chinchillo, Fletcher & Co. (June)