Punke, Michael 1964-

views updated

Punke, Michael 1964-

PERSONAL:

Born December 7, 1964, in WY; married Traci Silk; children: Sophie, Bowman. Education: George Washington University, B.A.; Cornell Law School, J.D. Hobbies and other interests: Fly fishing, cycling.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Missoula, MT. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Lawyer and writer. Hogan & Hartson, Washington, DC, lawyer; international trade counsel to Senator Max Baucus (Montana), Washington, DC, 1991; Finance Committee's International Trade Subcommittee, chairman; National Security Council and the National Economic Council, Washington, DC, director for international economic affairs, 1993-95; Office of the United States Trade Representative, Washington, DC, senior policy advisor, 1995-96; Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, Washington, DC, international trade lawyer, partner, 1996-2002; University of Montana, Missoula, MT, adjunct professor.

WRITINGS:

The Revenant (novel), Carroll & Graf Publishers (New York, NY), 2002.

Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.

Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West, Smithsonian Books (New York, NY), 2007.

ADAPTATIONS:

The Revenant is being adapted for film by Warner Bros.

SIDELIGHTS:

In his first novel, The Revenant, Michael Punke recounts a fictionalized version of an historic frontiersman of the Old West. Hugh Glass leaves Philadelphia as a teenager, spends time on the high seas with a pirate, and then heads to the West where he is captured by the Pawnee. He eventually escapes and ends up as a trapper with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. During a trapping expedition, Glass is attacked by a bear and badly mauled. Two of his fellow trappers, John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger, are left behind by the rest of the group to watch over him until he dies. Fitzgerald and Bridger eventually abandon him, but Glass unexpectedly survives. The novel then follows Glass as he sets out on a journey of epic proportions in pursuit of those he believes to have betrayed him. Along the way, he enlists the help of Indians and learns their way of life, as well as their survival and tracking skills in the wilderness. "A good adventure yarn, with plenty of historical atmosphere and local color," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented: "Told in simple expository language, this is a spellbinding tale of heroism and obsessive retribution."

Punke's second book, Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917, covers the tragedy of a mine fire in a small Montana community that killed 164 men and unleashed years of tension between the local residents and the mining company. In a review for Booklist, Jay Freeman remarked that "Punke's recounting of the struggle of the others to survive is tense, exciting, and even inspiring." A reviewer for SciTech Book News observed that the work reads "like a fast-paced novel." Stephen L. Hupp, a contributor to the Library Journal, wrote that "Punke presents this timely story in a strong and readable manner."

Punke followed Fire and Brimstone with another work of nonfiction, the 2007 title Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West. The book depicts the life of George Grinnell, a man born into wealth during the Gilded Age, who turned away from his social set's assumptions that the planet contained inexhaustible resources that were there for the taking by those with the money and ability to do so. While hunting buffalo on a trip out west, it dawned on Grinnell that the bison were perhaps being hunted at too swift a rate for the species to survive. He became a staunch conservationist and fought for the protection of the animals. Punke recounts Grinnell's career as an activist and writer; Grinnell helped found the first Audubon Society and the Boone and Crockett Club and pushed for the creation of Glacier National Park. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews remarked that "the heart of this book and its best part is the tale of how that career was put to use saving the bison from extinction—a decision that could have gone the other way in an instant." Freeman remarked: "As seen by Punke, Grinnell was a major figure in reimagining our wilderness areas as places to be preserved."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July 1, 2006, Jay Freeman, review of Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917, p. 14; May 15, 2007, Jay Freeman, review of Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West, p. 9.

California Bookwatch, October, 2006, review of Fire and Brimstone.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of The Revenant, p. 521; June 1, 2006, review of Fire and Brimstone, p. 563; April 15, 2007, review of Last Stand.

Library Journal, June 15, 2006, Stephen L. Hupp, review of Fire and Brimstone, p. 84.

Publishers Weekly, May 6, 2002, review of The Revenant, p. 31; May 22, 2006, review of Fire and Brimstone, p. 49.

SciTech Book News, September, 2006, review of Fire and Brimstone.

ONLINE

Michael Punke Home Page,http://www.michaelpunke.com (January 10, 2008).