Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America

Leila Philip highlights how beavers played an oversized role in American history and how they can play an important role in its future. Beaverland is a poignant personal narrative, a startling portrait of the secretive world of the contemporary fur trade, and an engrossing ecological and historical investigation of these heroic animals who, once trapped to the point of extinction, have returned to the landscape as one of the greatest conservation stories of the 20th century. Click here for the 69-minute video of her Providence Athenaeum talk on May 9, 2023.

(Above) Athenaeum Executive Director Matt Burriesci poses questions to Philip follow her presentation. In Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America, Philip traces the beaver’s profound influence on the early trans-Atlantic trade in North America and feverish western expansion, which gave the country its first corporations and multi-millionaires.

In her pursuit of this wonderfully compelling animal, she also follows contemporary fur trappers who lead her through waist high water, fur traders and fur auctioneers, as well as wildlife managers, PETA activists, Native American environmental vigilantes, scientists, engineers, and the colorful group of activists known as beaver believers.

Since its release in December, Beaverland has garnered praise from the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. This past January it was the NPR Science Friday book of the month.