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Book Data

ISBN: 9781603583909
Year Added to Catalog: 2013
Book Format: Hardcover
Book Art: 16-page color insert
Dimensions: 6 x 9
Number of Pages: 244
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green
Release Date: October 20, 2013
Web Product ID: 761

Also By This Author

Out on a Limb

What Black Bears Have Taught Me About Intelligence and Intuition

by Benjamin Kilham

Reviews, Interviews, & Articles

  • Animal behaviorists like Kilham (Among the Bears) are at a disadvantage in the world of science: they observe their animals in nature rather than in the lab. Severely dyslexic, Kilham was denied admission to a doctoral program: that, too, made his work suspect. But he’s raised 27 orphan bears from infancy and been friends to one bear for 14 years now. Kilham even discovered a sensory organ in black bears that helps them to determine which plants are safe to eat. In straightforward prose, Kilham sets forth what he’s learned from more than 20 years of working with bears. They aren’t loners, as thought, but inhabit a complicated world of reciprocal social arrangements that allow them to browse other bears’ territories when food is scarce in their own. They read mood and intent and discipline bears that transgress. Kilham speculates on the relevance of his observations to early human development and sees bears’ behavior as a possible analog to ours. VERDICT Anyone who enjoys reading works by Temple Grandin (who provides the foreword here), Jane Goodall, or Frans de Waal will enjoy this book. Kilham is a worthy member of a small but increasingly vocal confraternity of scientists who watch as often as they count." — Library Journal
  • "The author is a state-sponsored researcher whose work with the black bear population in northern New Hampshire is safe, methodical and sanctioned. Since he does not currently hold a doctorate—he’s now working on that—much of his fieldwork has been discounted by the scientific community. On the other hand, his outsider status has allowed him to go his own way and trust in his natural skills rather than bemoan his shortcomings revolving around his dyslexia. Despite his condition, he is blessed with the ability to recognize patterns and see systems where they are not self-evident. The tone of his presentation allays criticism or hostility with its frankness and generosity, as he plunges into what he has observed: how bears use scent and body language, how they compete and cooperate, how they enforce house rules and exhibit a social code of justice and punishment, and how they communicate. Though he has interacted with hundreds of black bears, one in particular—Squirty, whom he adopted as a cub and released into the wild—has allowed Kilham to experience an intimate association with him, from comfort to anger and many other emotions in between. The author presents a solid case for bears as primal actors of social exchange—cooperation, altruism, morality—and their study, a 'gateway' to understanding 'how surplus fitness and an increase in population density have affected human behavior.' A powerfully original study of bears."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "For nearly 20 years, naturalist Kilham has fostered orphaned black bear cubs in northern New Hampshire. In his previous book, Among the Bears, Raising Orphan Cubs in the Wild (2002), he described his early efforts to teach cubs to forage, hunt, and avoid natural and human-made dangers. In this book, he recounts years of studying bears he released into the woods, especially Squirty, who has successfully raised her own cubs, who have in turn raised another generation of wild bears. Because Squirty still trusts Kilham as family, he has been able to observe bear social interactions closely. Among his discoveries are that bears socialize far more than commonly believed and occasionally exhibit altruistic behavior. Although some scientists criticize Kilham’s work, he defends his methods and likens bear society to that of primitive humans, suggesting that we can learn much about our origins from the bears. Advice for hikers encountering bears rounds out this popular-science memoir."—Booklist

  • ThoughtCast: Black Bear Orphans and the man who reads their minds
  • Ben Kilham on Good Morning America
  • To The Best Of Our Knowledge Interview
  • National Geographic Article
  • Public Radio Exchange Interview
  • Northern Woodlands Article
  • Ben Kilham on New Hampshire All Things Considered
  • Other New Hampshire Public Radio Stories Featuring Ben Kilham
  • Yankee Magazine Article
  • Boston Globe Article
  • Associated Press Article
  • Gawker Article

Price: $24.95
Format: Hardcover
Status: Available to Ship
Ships: Next day


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International orders can be placed by phone (802-295-6300) or email

Benjamin Kilham's Upcoming Events

  • Ben Kilham at Bever Brook Association's 50th Annual Meeting
    (tentative) Labelle Winery, Route 101, Amherst NH
    January 15, 2015, 6:30 pm

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