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An acclaimed journalist seeks to understand the mysterious allure of peacocks-and in the process discovers unexpected and valuable life lessons. When Sean Flynn's neighbor in North Carolina texted Any chance you guys want a peacock? No kidding! he stared bewilderedly at his phone. He had never considered whether he wanted a peacock. But as an award-winning magazine writer, this kind of mystery intrigued him. So he, his wife, and their two young sons became the owners of not one but three charming yet fickle birds: Carl, Ethel, and Mr. Pickle. In Why Peacocks?, Flynn chronicles his hilarious and heartwarming first year as a peacock owner, from struggling to build a pen to assisting the local bird doctor in surgery to triumphantly watching a peahen lay her first egg. He also examines the history of peacocks, from their appearance in the Garden of Eden to their befuddling Charles Darwin to their bewitching the likes of Flannery O'Connor and Martha Stewart. And fueled by a reporter's curiosity, he travels across the globe to learn more about the birds firsthand, with stops including a Scottish castle where peacocks have resided for centuries, a southern California community tormented by a serial killer of peacocks, and a Kansas City airport hotel hosting an annual gathering of true peafowl aficionados. At turns comically absurd and deeply poignant, Why Peacocks? blends lively, insightful memoir and illuminating science journalism to answer the title's question. More than that, it offers surprising lessons about love, grief, fatherhood, and family.
As the first Lakota to serve in the United States Congress, Benjamin ('Ben') Reifel (1906-1990) made a career of straddling two distinct cultures. A bilingual member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, Reifel often found his ideas challenged by American Indian activists. He advocated for his people to become self-reliant citizens, not by abandoning traditional values, but through education and integration. In the end, Reifel viewed himself as a modern Indian leader, versed in his native tongue and culture, college educated, and looking beyond reservation boundaries. Throughout his earlier career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and in Congress during the 1960s, Reifel worked to bring economic success to the reservations and to South Dakota as a whole, dividing his time between agriculture policy and Indian affairs. A moderate-conservative Republican, he quickly rose to prominence on the House Appropriations Committee and, with Senator Karl E. Mundt, is responsible for the placement of the United States Geological Survey's Earth Resources Observation Systems (eros) Data Center near the city of Sioux Falls. In this premier biography of Reifel, Sean J. Flynn offers an alternative to depictions of American Indians as victims of eighteenth- and nineteenth century conquest. Contributing to a long-neglected topic in American Indian studies - the lives of twentieth-century American Indians - Flynn showcases the life of a man who prospered in the American mainstream without forsaking his racial identity.