Under a Wild Sky

Under a Wild Sky


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Before Audubon, ornithological illustrations depicted scaled-down birds perched in static poses. Wheeling beneath storm-racked skies or ripping flesh from freshly killed prey, Audubon’s life-size birds looked as if they might fly screeching off the page. The wildness in the images matched their maker––a self-taught painter and self-anointed aristocrat, who, with his buckskins and long hair, was both a hardened frontiersman and a cultured man of science.

Tormented by ambiguities surrounding his birth, Audubon reinvented himself ceaselessly. But when he came east at thirty-eight—broke and desperate to find a publisher—he ran into a scientific establishment still wedded to convention and suspicious of the newcomer. It took Audubon fifteen years to prevail in both his project and his vision. How he triumphed and what drove him are the subjects of William Souder’s gripping narrative, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

  • Paperback
  • 384 pages
  • Written by William Souder