Book Review: The Grizzly Maze

by Juli Wilcox | September 1, 2006

Grizzly MazeWith interest I read the threads in NatureScapes.Net Ethics forum about Grizzly Man, Tim Treadwell, a Californian who went to Alaska for 13 summers to be with the brown bears on the Katmai coast. He raised California and Colorado money to fund these summers with the bears and foxes and subsequent programs for school kids. I had never heard of Timothy Treadwell or Amie H., the person who camped with him part of that final summer in 2003, until reading the threads and digging in to find out more. But it was news of their hardships, ambiguous relationships with themselves and the bears, and subsequent shocking deaths as told by Alaskan writer-photographer Nick Jans in “The Grizzly Maze” that was hard to put away. The book is a thriller, not only for what we learn about Ursus but that the reader, from a safe distance, can imagine the situation so clearly.

Nick has, as they say, a way with words. Whether morbid or having to do with human motivation, Nick cleanly lays out information but then turns around and presents the other sides or another plausible angle. That’s a neat feat. He has the ability to ask the questions we are thinking, yes, every one. Just as we’re about to ask the next question, he asks it for us. It’s as if Jans can read the reader.

For example, “Why?” Who in their right minds would willingly camp at the crossroads of ancient bear trails, especially at the end of the season when bears were making final attempts to do what bears do, eat and den away in fat oblivion for the winter? On the other hand, given one’s choices, who wouldn’t exercise absolute ultimate control in their own life, living freely where and when possible, answering to few people until something better comes along? It may seem a bit too easy for some to say, “Only a crazy.”

The book is packed with facts, but beyond that, we watch with fascination as other humans go about picking up the pieces after the attack, literally and figuratively. Nick has the ability to let us see where we’re going or why he took us somewhere. He knows some of us are plain stupid around bears but by the end of the book, we’re with him for what he has to tell us about bears and those who seek them out. I never distrusted the author’s style for leaving me hanging or hitting me over the head, so for those who really want to know all that is known about what went on there, you can find it out in the Grizzly Maze.

The Grizzly Maze is available for purchase through

The Grizzly Maze book review

About the Author

Recently retired from 38 years in rural special education services, Juli Wilcox is a writer-photographer-editor and project consultant for other nature photographers. She is working on her first book, proceeds of which will benefit The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund.

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