Book: The Beast in the Garden

A combination of meticulous research and superb story-telling, David Baron’s The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature (W.W. Norton, $15) never fails to engage, from the first page to the last. Though originally published in 2004, and oriented around a deadly lion attack in Boulder, CO in 1991, Beast in the Garden is a timeless tale about the ongoing collision of human civilization and wild nature. As Montanans, it’s a story we can relate to: as humans encroach upon and disrupt ages-old ecosystems, animals alter their behavior and eventually, cause conflict—in some cases deadly. In our case, it’s grizzlies that occasionally make a meal out of man; in Boulder in the late 1990s, it was mountain lions. Baron’s study is both sweeping and nuanced, with minute details that take the reader into the carnivorous consciousness of the cougar and back out again, all within the larger framework of the modern Rocky Mountain lifestyle and our complex relationship with the wild beasts that inhabit its vast landscapes. The book answers many questions, raises many more, and if nothing else will show you how little you really know about mountain lions. Available at Country Bookshelf.