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Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia

by Stephen J. Bodio

* Hardcover: 256 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.98 x 9.22 x 6.22
* Publisher: The Lyons Press; 1.00 edition (December 1, 2003)
* ISBN: 1592282075

I was a junior in college when my dad sent me a copy of a new magazine he had started receiving at home called Gray's Sporting Journal. An English student and avid sportsman, I turned immediately to the book review section. Typically, I did not expect much from a sporting magazine's book review; seldom did these reviews actually convey much critical information.

This was the first time I read Steve Bodio's by-line. I read his review column, then went back and read it again, and again. In three pages, I knew this was a writer that deserved my attention. In fact, I had never read anyone who so passionately loved books and the sporting life, and who also wrote about those passions so beautifully. As Bodio himself once wrote about another writer: "He's THAT good."

Steve Bodio is a cult writer, a characterization I once heard Bodio himself acknowledge. Those of us who make up this cult cannot figure out why he isn't better known. Quite possibly it is because he is a naturalist who remains an unapologetic hunter, a hunter who would rather discuss natural history than the latest camouflage pattern, and a writer who ignores current fashions and writes about subjects like falconry, pigeons, catfish and wild freedom.

This latest book, on Mongolia, is a wonderful travel book that one hopes will introduce Bodio to a new and expanded readership. "Eagle Dreams" traces Bodio's fascination with the eagle hunters of Mongolia to the realization of the dream during the course of two trips.

Calling "Eagle Dreams" a travel book is perhaps unfair; it is not easily placed into a neat category. It is a travel book, a sporting book, a nature book, a "sense of place" book-but none of those categories convey its real spirit.

Bodio has a naturalist's keen curiosity, conveyed through vivid descriptions of everything from eagles to malaria. He has a fascination with even the more common creatures, writing of the magpies and pigeons he finds with a delight that seems as if he is seeing these creatures for the first time. He captures Mongolia's interesting history, its nomadic culture and the difficulties of travel in a way that is humane, engaging, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.

Of course, there is a lot of falconry here, with fascinating writing about the eagle hunters of Mongolia, their methods, their birds and their lives.

Bodio does not take his travels for granted, in stark contrast to the writers of many modern travel books. His travels to Mongolia are the realization of a dream, and he conveys just what it is like for a lover of words and ideas to finally stand in a place one has imagined deeply. I suspect many of us who grew up dreaming of travel that seemed so beyond our means can relate to this; I have never read any writer who conveys this feeling better. His observations on the "sountrack" of such experiences are worth the price of the book.

This book is a good introduction to Steve Bodio, capturing his love of animals and wild places, his opinionated (and true) observations on our society's maddening political correctness and Puritanism, his embodiment of a well-lived life (again, to paraphrase him on another subject, I'm not sure that he is making much of a living but what a life!), his literary musings that lead one to believe he has read EVERYTHING, and a writing style that is just a joy to read.

Ultimately, this book seems to be saying, that, even in an increasingly tamed and conformist world, there is still quarry to hunt, books to read, birds to watch, adventures to live. It's not a message you'll find in many travel-to-unusual places books. If for that reason alone, read this book.

Reviewer: Matthew L. Miller

Mongolia Bookshop

Books on Mongolia and Mongolian Culture

Guide Books on Mongolia - Historical books
Mongolian Phrasebook - Eagle Dreams - Genghis Khan - Gobi by John Man
Morinkhuur: A self learning guide - Museum Highlights
DVD The Story of the Weeping Camel

Modern Mongolia From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists
Modern Mongolia: Reclaiming Genghis Khan

New: Travels in Northern Mongolia

Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China, and Mongolia 1921-1925 - Mabel Cabot

A Testament to the Great Spirit and Success of a Remarkable Woman Explorer In the early 1920s, the last great age of world explorers, a remarkable young woman, Janet Elliott Wulsin, set out with her husband, Frederick Wulsin, for the far reaches of China, Tibet, and Outer Mongolia to study the people, flora, and fauna of the region. Janet’s strenuous, eventful exploration is detailed by a text enriched with excerpts from her candid personal letters. The journey proved to be a test of the Wulsins’ endurance and of their relationship. While in Asia, the Wulsins took many extraordinary photographs, which form the heart of this richly produced publication. They documented tribespeople and sublime desert landscapes, and, perhaps most remarkably, were allowed to photograph the interior of several of the great Tibetan Buddhist lamaseries, many of which have since been destroyed. Several dozen rare, hand-painted lantern slides survived and are reproduced here in splendid color. The photographs from the Wulsin expedition are now in the collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, in collaboration with which this volume is being produced.
Colloquial Mongolian - Alan J. K. Sanders... Mongolia - Claire Sermier Mongolia Bradt Guide - Jane Blunden Hearing Birds Fly - Louisa Waugh

The Khan's Daughter - Laurence Yep

A History of Inner Asia - Svat Soucek

In The Empire of Genghis Khan - Stanley Stewart

Eagle Dreams - Stephen J. Bodio

Lonely Planet Mongolian Phrasebook - Alan J.K. Sanders

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World - Jack Weatherford

Trans-Siberian Handbook, 6th - Bryn Thomas

Women of Mongolia - Martha Avery

The Desert Road to Turkestan (Kodansha Globe) - Owen Lattimore

Bones of the Master - GEORGE CRANE

I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade - Diane Lee Wilson


Mongolia Books
books on Mongolia and Mongolian culture