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Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia
     

Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia

by Stephen J. Bodio
 

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When Stephen Bodio was a young boy in the early fifties he saw an image in National Geographic which became forever etched in his mind: It was a photograph of a Kazakh nomad, dressed in a long coat and wearing a fur hat, holding a huge eagle on his fist. Thus began his fascination with East Asia and with the culture that hunts, not eagles, but with

Overview

When Stephen Bodio was a young boy in the early fifties he saw an image in National Geographic which became forever etched in his mind: It was a photograph of a Kazakh nomad, dressed in a long coat and wearing a fur hat, holding a huge eagle on his fist. Thus began his fascination with East Asia and with the culture that hunts, not eagles, but with eagles.
Mongolia, a vast country located between Siberia and China and little known to outsiders, was long under Soviet domination and inaccessible to westerners. When it became independent in 1990, Bodio began planning a pilgrimage to see if the eagle hunters of "The Picture" had survived. A lifelong falconer himself, he longed to visit the birth place of falconry and observe the traditions that had survived intact through the ages. His fantasy was realized when he traveled independently to the westernmost region of Mongolia and spent months with the people and birds of his dreams. In Eagle Dreams, Bodio gives life to his dreams and the people, landscapes, and animals of Mongolia that have become part of his soul.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Travel writer Bodio's absorbing, plodding account of his search for Mongolia's fabled eagle hunters revels in mundane details but lacks enough information on the time the author spent with the hunters and the eagles. An image from a long-forgotten book of Bodio's youth stayed with him for almost half a century: a man with a weathered face on a horse, squinting into the distance, fur hat on his head and a large eagle on his arm. "Those of us who become travelers seem to lock into certain images early," he writes. Bodio would eventually pursue traveling as a vocation and hunting with eagles as a hobby, and when Mongolia opened up to tourism with the collapse of the Soviet Union, getting there to observe the ancient practice of hunting with eagles became an obsession. Eventually, after endless meals of fatty meat, milk tea and vodka, and hard journeys across steppes and over mountains, he found hunters and, thrilled, participated in their hunts. While Mongolia is underserved by good travel writing, and the little-known ritual at the center of the book-in which game (such as rabbit and fox) is flushed out into the open for the eagle to chase, then kill-seems worth Bodio's travails, this account is too repetitious. A pared-down version of the story appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 2001 and was subsequently chosen for The Best American Travel Writing 2002. Alas, in the transition from article to book, the author's padding of the story (e.g., meticulous recounting of how he financed and planned his travels) does not serve it well. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When Bodio (Querencia; On the Edge of the Wild) was a child, he spotted a photograph of a Kazakh nomad with a huge eagle perched on his fist, and a fascination with Asia was born. A lifelong falconer, he longed to visit Mongolia, the birthplace of falconry, but was thwarted until 1990, when it finally became independent from Soviet rule. Wedged between China and Russia, Mongolia still remains largely unexplored by Westerners. In this account of his two trips to the westernmost region of Mongolia, where he spent months with the local populace and the birds of his dreams, Bodio offers insightful, heartfelt, and often humorous observations of the inhabitants and the landscapes of Mongolia, frequently invoking the words of other authors who have traveled in the country, from Marco Polo to Stanley Stewart. He also provides tour addresses to get travelers started if they wish to visit this faraway place. Recommended for all public and academic libraries. [An excerpt from this book was chosen by Frances Mayes for The Best Travel Writing 2002.-Ed.]-Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svcs., Wondervu, CO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592282074
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
12/30/2003
Edition description:
First edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.93(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Bodio's other books include Querencia, On the Edge of the Wild, Aloft, and Rage for Falcons. An excerpt from Eagle Dreams appeared in the February 2001 Atlantic Monthly and was selected by Frances Mayes for Best Travel Essays 2002. He lives in Magdalena, New Mexico.

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