Journalist Jon Mooallem has watched his little daughter's world overflow with animals butterfly pajamas, appliquéd owls--while the actual world she's inheriting slides into a great storm of extinction. Half of all species could disappear by the end of the century, and scientists now concede that most of America's endangered animals will survive only if conservationists keep rigging the world around them in their favor. So Mooallem ventures into the field, often taking his daughter with him, on a tour through our environmental moment and the eccentric cultural history of people and wild animals in America that inflects it--from Thomas Jefferson's celebrations of early abundance to the turn-of the-last-century origins of the teddy bear to the whale-loving hippies of the 1970s. Our most comforting ideas about nature unravel. In their place, Mooallem forges a new and affirming vision of the human animal and the wild ones as kindred creatures on an imperfect planet.--From publisher description.