The Secret History of Bigfoot: Field Notes on a North American Monster (Hardcover)
From the shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest to off-the-wall cryptozoological conventions, one man searches high and low for the answer to the question: real or not, why do we want to believe?
Journalist and writer John O'Connor takes readers on a narrative quest through the American wilds in search of Bigfoot, its myth and meaning. Inhabited by an eccentric cast of characters – reputable men of science and deluded charlatans alike – the book explores the zany and secretive world of "cryptozoology," tracking Bigfoot from the Wild Men of Native American and European lore to Harry and the Hendersons, while examining the forces behind our ever-widening belief in the supernatural.
By turns an ardent, philosophical defense of nature, investigation into what Kurt Andersen calls our peculiar "American appetites for immersive make-believe," and a gonzo trip into alternative reality, this is the story of our Bigfoot obsession – where it comes from, what it means today – and the people driving it. Tag along with O'Connor as he treks through the shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest, studies indigenous legends, and attends off-the-wall cryptozoological conventions.
Perfect for readers of Bill Bryson and Douglas Preston and with sharp wit and an adventurous spirit, this heartfelt exploration of a cornerstone of American folklore unpacks why we believe in the things that we do, and what that says about us.
"Ostensibly, this is a book about the legend of Bigfoot and the cabal of seekers who studiously attend to its myth, but it is actually a book about wildness, desire, faith, hope, loss, and the various things we sense in our bones but cannot account for. John O'Connor is a deeply smart, funny, and tenderhearted writer, and The Secret History of Bigfoot is a remarkable debut, full of wit, insight, and a devout reverence for the mysteries at the heart of our existence. I loved this book. It made me feel as though both everything and nothing are possible." — Amanda Petrusich, author of Do Not Sell at Any Price
"Tales of monsters dwelling in the forest dark endure around the world, but there is something conspicuously, poignantly, and outlandishly American about Bigfoot. John O'Connor takes us on a jubilant journey coast to coast and across the centuries to understand why a mythic figure that seems always to be disappearing just as it comes into view has such an enduring presence. The truth may or may not be out there; The Secret History of Bigfoot is a reminder of how much fun the search for it can be." — Peter Manseau, author of The Apparitionist
"Hilarious. An unforgettable blend of comic hijinx, barnburing journalism, and beautiful writing. The Secret History of Bigfoot places a peculiarly American phenomenon on the continuum of crackpot ideas and believe-whatever-you-want fantasies embedded in our past and present, tracking its life and legend while parsing various subtexts of belief, from Salishan mythology to modern day 'cryptozoology,' from clear-headed skeptics to conspiratorial kooks. His affection for Bigfooters is matched only by his honest and revelatory assessment of their beliefs. Simply one of the funniest and most entertaining books I've read in a very long time." — Kirk Wallace Johnson, bestselling author of The Feather Thief and The Fisherman and the Dragon
"A winning portrait of America at its weirdest." — Publishers Weekly