Tenacious Beasts

Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think about Animals
by Christopher J. Preston
from MIT Press

An inspiring look at wildlife species that are defying the odds and teaching important lessons about how to share a planet.

The news about wildlife is dire—more than 900 species have been wiped off the planet since industrialization. Against this bleak backdrop, however, there are also glimmers of hope and crucial lessons to be learned from animals that have defied global trends toward extinction. Bear in Italy, bison in North America, whales in the Atlantic. These populations are back from the brink, some of them in numbers unimaginable in a century. How has this happened? What shifts in thinking did it demand? In crisp, transporting prose, Christopher Preston reveals the mysteries and challenges at the heart of these resurgences.

Drawing on compelling personal stories from the researchers, Indigenous people, and activists who know the creatures best, Preston weaves together a gripping narrative of how some species are taking back vital, ecological roles. Each section of the book—farms, prairies, rivers, forests, oceans—offers a philosophical shift in how humans ought to think about animals, passionately advocating for the changes in attitude necessary for wildlife recovery.

Tenacious Beasts is quintessential nature writing for the Anthropocene, touching on different facets of ecological restoration from Indigenous knowledge to rewilding practices. More important, perhaps, the book offers a road map—and a measure of hope—for a future in which humans and animals can once again coexist.


Rare, well-delivered positive news about animals and the natural world . . . with . . . Inspiring stories of wildlife resilience and recovery. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


“[Preston writes with the goal of highlighting promising partnerships, building on lessons learned from animals themselves, and questioning long-held beliefs about wildlife and conservation…This makes for an excellent recommendation to readers searching for thoughtful but hopeful books on the future of nature.” — Library Journal, (starred review)


Christopher J. Preston

Christopher Preston’s essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Aeon, and on the BBC website. He teaches environmental philosophy at the University of Montana and lives in Missoula, MT.

Tenacious Beasts follows Preston’s The Synthetic Age published in 2018.


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