Bears, By Bernd Brunner

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The Independent Culture

As this delightful but often discomfiting book shows, "it has been the bear's fate to serve as a yardstick for humans". Moving with a brisk tread between actual bear behaviour and the myths and tales that partner it, Brunner reminds us - with dry wit and great illustrations - that we get bears wrong. Above all, they're just not that into us.

All the legends of man-bear interaction serve to hide a profound bearish "indifference". Pursue them too closely, and they may just care enough for a lethal attack - as the "grizzly man", Timothy Treadwell, found in Alaska in 2003. In the past, we had safer ursine fantasies. Not unusually for his age, Earl Siward of Northumberland (died 1055) claimed to be a descendant of bears.

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