The beaver has an image problem. All bucktooth goofiness, not worthy of noble national animals like America’s soaring eagle or China’s ferocious but cute panda. But, Frances Backho51EUmGbDkcL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_use contends in Once They Were Hats (ECW) there is much more to the beaver than a tail that appears to have been flattened by a tractor tire:

The truth is, the humble and much-aligned beaver is actually the Mighty Beaver, arguable North America’s most influential animal, aside from ourselves. For no less than a million years, and possibly as long as 24 million, beavers in one form or another have been sculpting the continental landscape…

Backhouse builds a case for the beaver as noble standard bearer fora new world order blending history, science and common sense into an engaging and memorable work. ◊

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