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Anatomy of a Beast

Obsession and Myth on the Trail of Bigfoot

Michael McLeod (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 238 pages
ISBN: 9780520269866
April 2011
$24.95, £20.00
Part history, part road trip, and part biography, this is the true story of a remarkable group of men whose obsession with Bigfoot turned the giant hominid into an American icon. Award-winning journalist Michael McLeod tells of Bigfoot's rise to tabloid stardom in a fast-paced account that begins with his own journey to investigate a famous 1967 film clip of a Bigfoot in a California forest. McLeod proceeds to uncover a trail of clues reaching from the late nineteenth century, when a few ambitious, imaginative naturalists and explorers synthesized historical and indigenous folklore with Darwinian ideas and speculated that a proto-hominid "missing link" might still be alive in remote areas. That speculation would eventually inspire a colorful cast of loggers, hunters, con artists, and businessmen in the twentieth century to create the modern myth of Bigfoot, all of them angling for a piece of a monster that the media and the public still can't get enough of. Told through vividly narrated interviews and anecdotes, Anatomy of a Beast offers a unique perspective on the deep roots of counterfactual thinking—and how obsession and myth are created out of it.

Part I. The Essential Bigfoot
1. Harrison
2. The Missing Link
3. Bluff Creek
4. The Backup Man
5. The Klamath Knot

Part II. Obsession
6. Mountain Devils
7. Show Time
8. Bigfoot Daze
9. Cryptid Wars

Part III. Reason and Truth
10. The Goblin Universe
11. Reason and Truth
12. Bigfoot's Kitchen

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Michael McLeod is a writer, producer, and director who has created documentaries for PBS, the PBS series Frontline, the Discovery Channel, and other national venues.
“McLeod approaches Bigfoot culture the way Susan Orlean approached orchids . . . artfully traces our culture's obsession to walking man-beasts.”—Justin Berton San Francisco Chronicle
“A funny, well-written memoir about chasing down the believers.”—Scott Bradfield Bookforum
“With prose that's both sensitive and probing, McLeod explores this very human aspect, the tendency to see pictures in the clouds, UFOs in the sky, and fragments of evolution in the woods.”—Andi Diehn Foreword
“McLeod writes evocatively of a rich, wondrous ecological area known as ‘The Klamath Knot.’"—Nick Owchar Los Angeles Times Book Review
“The author follows the evolution of the Sasquatch story through wingnut conventions, amateur museums, misty woodlands, dubious newspaper accounts and the journals of outlandish explorers. Even better, he introduces readers to the colorful gang of kooks and weirdos—most of them earnest believers—who make up the brotherhood of Bigfoot researchers. It’s an entertaining and thoroughly researched travelogue, as much about America’s need for mystery as the elusive denizens of the Klamath forests.”—Ben Waterhouse Willamette Week
“Anatomy of a Beast isn’t really about Bigfoot so much as it is about Bigfooters – the mythological pursuers of the mythological persuee. These persuers are McLeod’s titular “beasts,” those true believers who have devoted their lives to finding undeniable proof that Bigfoot exists. . . . McLeod tugs at threads that unravel the stories of people driven by life’s lows and high-stakes: pride, illness, wealth, chicanery, professional reputations, hype, hope. . . . He treads these not-so-hallow grounds with respect and compassion.”—(Bio)Accumulation
“Bigfoot isn’t nearly as famous as s/he used to be. But that doesn’t make McLeod’s book—part history, part biography, and part adventure story—any less compelling. It’s a vivid reminder of how a myth can propagate when one combines widespread deficiencies in basic education with a media that is all too willing to disseminate far-fetched stories.”—Jason Zasky Failure
“McLeod approaches Bigfoot culture the way Susan Orlean approached orchids . . . artfully traces our culture's obsession to walking man-beasts.”—Justin Berton Kansas City Star
“Insightful and amusing.”—Robert Nott Santa Fe New Mexican
“A look back to the late-19th-century roots of the myth and forward to how such inexplicable beings live on in our technological scientific age.”—Peggy McMullen The Oregonian
"Michael McLeod doesn't simply debunk hoaxes; he critically, but sympathetically, explores the motivations that have driven the 'Bigfoot community' to build an enormous and intricate, if ramshackle, edifice of lore. McLeod has written an anatomy of mythology with implications that go beyond the Bigfoot phenomenon. The Bigfoot mythologists' strange, colorful, and sometimes comical, personalities play a big part of this compulsively readable story."—David Rains Wallace, author of The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution

"In the same way that dinosaurs and other exotic beasts from Earth's distant and hazy past inspire and fascinate many of us, Bigfoot has captured the imagination of generations of Americans. Here, Michael McLeod approaches the 'Bigfoot phenomenon' in the same way that a detective would follow leads at a crime scene. The result is a delicious case study of human obsession and the fuzzy border between science and pseudoscience."—Chris Beard, author of The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey: Unearthing the Origins of Monkeys, Apes, and Humans
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Interview with the author, Michael McLeod

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