In 1823, a bear attack left Hugh glass struggling for life on the plains of present-day South Dakota. Abandoned by his comrades, he crawled two hundred miles to the nearest trading post before setting out on an odyssey of revenge, only to forgive the men who had deserted him. The story of Hugh Glass has provided fertile ground for novels, biographies, stories, comics, and an Oscar-winning film, but the real man remains a mystery.
Little is known about Glass, and nothing remains to document his physical appearance. Like most mountain men, he might have simply faded into history. Instead, Glasse's encounter with the bear sparked a great western myth, as a series of writers built on his story to illustrate their visions of the American character. Glass's legend is still growing today, magnified through bestselling books and films like Lord Grizzly and The Revenant.
Historian James D. McLaird traces the threads of the legend back to the earliest evidence and revisits what readers know-or think they know-about Glass and his adventure. Along the way, he examines the growth of the fur trade, the complicated relationship between humans and bears, and how Hugh Glass reflects our always-changing view of the west.