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Jon Mooallem Books In Order

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
American Hippopotamus (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
This Is Chance!: The Shaking of an All-American City, a Voice That Held It Together (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Jon Mooallem
Jon Mooallem is from New Jersey and has lived in San Francisco, California for a long time. He lives on Bainbridge Island, which is located next to Seattle, Washington.

He is a longtime writer at large for The New York Times Magazine (which he’s contributed to since the year 2006) and contributor to many other magazines and radio shows, including Wired and This American Life. He has spoken at TED and has collaborated with the members of the Decemberists on musical storytelling projects.

His podcast The Walking Podcast chronicles each of Mooallem’s perambulations on Bainbridge Island. It was named one of the Best Podcast’s of 2019 by New York Magazine’s Vulture.com and The A. V. Club.

“Wild Ones” was chosen by the New York Times Book Review as a notable book of the year. NPR’s Science Friday, The New Yorker, and Canada’s National Post, among others, also listed it among their notable books.

While Jon wrote “This is Chance!”, he reread a bunch of his favorite non-fiction books just to see how other people write them, but mostly he read a lot of novels. Oddly enough, many of them were dystopian novels. Two of his favorites were Severance and Station Eleven by Ling Ma.

“Wild Ones” is the first non-fiction book and was released in the year 2013. Journalist Jon Mooallem’s watched his young daughter’s world overflow with appliqued owls, butterfly pajamas, all while the real world she is inheriting slides down into a great storm of extinction.

Half of all the species may just disappear by the end of the century, and scientists now concede that many of America’s endangered animals are only going to survive if conservationists keep rigging the world all around them in their favor.

So Mooallem ventures out into the field, often bringing his daughter along with him, in order to move beyond childlike fascination and make those creatures appear more real. This is a tour through our environmental moment and the eccentric cultural history of wild animals and people 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 in the seventies.

This book, with searing wit and propulsive curiosity, merges science, history, and reportage into a humane and endearing meditation on what it really means to live in, and bring a life into, a broken world.

“American Hippopotamus” is the second non-fiction book and was released in the year 2013. The United States, in the year 1910, with its frontier all but exhausted and its population exploding was in the throes of a serious meat shortage. An industrious and small group of thinkers stepped up with an answer, a bold idea that was endorsed by the likes of The New York Times and Theodore Roosevelt. Their plan was to import hippos to the swamps of Louisiana and convince the American people to eat them.

The only thing that was odder than the hippo idea itself was the partnership used to promote it. At its core were two hard-bitten spies. One was Frederick Russell Burnham, a superhumanly competent frontiersman, fervent optimist about America’s future, and freelance adventurer. He would be the inspiration for Indiana Jones and the Boy Scouts. The other was Fritz Duquesne (also known as the Black Panther) a virtuoso con man and a cynical saboteur who believed in revenge and his own glorification.

Duquesne and Burnham had very recently been sworn enemies under orders to kill each other. They would soon be enemies once more. But for a shining and brief moment they joined behind one common cause: turning America into a country of hippo ranchers.

Jon brings to life a historical saga much too preposterous to be fiction, an eccentric and bracing epic of hippos and espionage. However it is also of a conflicted nation on the threshold of a bewildering new century, figuring what sort of country it would be, and what beasts that it would eat. Readers thoroughly enjoyed this book, as it was a quick read and encouraged them to research the story behind it. They also enjoyed finding a new piece of history that has largely been ignored.

“This is Chance!” is the third non-fiction book and was released in the year 2020. During the spring of 1964 in Anchorage, Alaska, was a modern day frontier town yearning to just be a metropolis. The proudest and biggest city in a state that’s still brand new. Just before sundown on Good Friday, the community got jolted by the most powerful earthquake in American history, a catastrophic 9.2.

For four and a half minutes, the ground lurched and rolled. Streets cracked open and swallowed buildings whole. And once this shaking stopped, night fell and then Anchorage went dark. The city’s slowly goes into disarray and sealed right off from the outside world.

Slowly, people switched on their transistor radios and heard a familiar woman’s voice explaining what just happened and what to do next. Genie Chance was a part-time radio reporter and a working mom that would play an unlikely role in the wake of this disaster, aiding to put her fractured community back together.

Her tireless broadcasts over the following three days would transform her into a legendary figure in Alaska and would even bring her worldwide fame, if only briefly. This Easter weekend in Anchorage, Genie and a group of characters, from the local community theater group staging our town to a mountaineering psychologist, get thrown into a jumbled world they couldn’t possibly recognize. Together, they’ll make a home in it again.

Jon draws the readers into the depths of a disaster just to unearth a moving and intimate story about our capacity to care for each other once things fall apart. This is poignant, funny, and surprising, and takes an all-too-familiar tale of a woman whose work is fundamental yet long forgotten and turns it onto its head. With his signature depth, wit, and gift for storytelling, Mooallem brings to life a fascinating and strong character who plays a crucial role in a disaster’s aftermath.

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