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Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend

Joshua Blu Buhs, "Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend"
University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 2009) | English | 0226079791 | 304 pages | PDF | 2.60 MB

In 1832, the British Resident in the court of Nepal reported that the natives had spotted a "furred, upright, tailless demon". In 1989, a Canadian woman and her grandson thought they saw a Sasquatch and joked that they should offer him a beer. Buhs traces the journey between these perceptions of elusive wild men and discovers a story of twentieth-century shifts in American culture and class. Bigfoot was both a product of the postwar ascendance of mass culture and a reaction to it, capturing the imagination of those who longed to "touch the really real behind the false front of consumer goods and scientific arrogance." The book is most interesting when revisiting men"s adventure magazines and rural "four-waller" movies. It is silliest when asserting that "by imagining themselves into the body of Sasquatch, white working-class men could imagine themselves as black, as women, could come in contact with their own souls".
Last August, two men in rural Georgia announced that they had killed Bigfoot. The claim drew instant, feverish attention, leading to more than 1,000 news stories worldwide - despite the fact that nearly everyone knew it was a hoax. Though Bigfoot may not exist, there's no denying Bigfoot mania.
With Bigfoot, Joshua Blu Buhs traces the wild and wooly story of America's favorite homegrown monster. He begins with nineteenth-century accounts of wildmen roaming the forests of America, treks to the Himalayas to reckon with the Abominable Snowman, then takes us to northern California in 1958, when reports of a hairy hominid loping through remote woodlands marked Bigfoot's emergence as a modern marvel. Buhs delves deeply into the trove of lore and misinformation that has sprung up around Bigfoot in the ensuing half century. We meet charlatans, pseudo-scientists, and dedicated hunters of the beast - and with Buhs as our guide, the focus is always less on evaluating their claims than on understanding why Bigfoot has inspired all this drama and devotion in the first place. What does our fascination with this monster say about our modern relationship to wilderness, individuality, class, consumerism, and the media?
Writing with a scientist's skepticism but an enthusiast's deep engagement, Buhs invests the story of Bigfoot with the detail and power of a novel, offering the definitive take on this elusive beast.



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