Bozeman Magazine – November, 2014
Ted Turner Talks Montana, Bison, Capitalism & The Book Last Stand
October 31, 2014
I’ll be honest: I never knew what to make of Ted Turner. I would hear of “Ted sightings” in Bozeman, but I never met the man myself. Now I feel like I’ve had a long conversation with Montana’s most famous and controversial billionaire “bison baron.”
Todd Wilkinson’s incredibly entertaining book, “Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet” was the recent One Book—One Bozeman selection made by the Bozeman Public Library Foundation. Works are selected based on the premise that they’re worthwhile volumes everyone in the community should read. “Last Stand” is out this autumn in paperback. It’s a fascinating profile of Turner who, in midlife, bought a huge ranch outside Bozeman, the Flying D, and made life-changing decisions that established him as arguably the foremost “eco-capitalist” in the world today.
Over the course of the last several months, copies of “Last Stand” found their way to every member of Congress and all of the nearly 200 ambassadors to the United Nations. The book is touted by part-time Montanan Tom Brokaw, Terry Tempest Williams, E.O. Wilson and Bozeman’s own David Quammen.
I enjoyed reading the book because there’s so much I didn’t know about Turner. I wasn’t aware of how Turner connects us to so many larger issues in the world, such as the species extinction crisis, the role of the UN, and the looming threats of nuclear weapons and, potentially nuclear terrorists.
From his Bozeman ranch, Turner has built the largest bison herd in the world and he’s been the major catalyst in helping to recover the species. He’s welcomed back wolves and grizzlies to the Flying D and he is considered a major figure in
the conservation biology movement called “rewilding.”
DANIEL SMITH: Are you surprised by all of the positive attention Last Stand has received?
TED TURNER: The response has been satisfying. I didn’t try to shape the direction of the book or tell Todd how to write it. I told him that I would be as open and honest as possible and sometimes he really pushed me to open up. Some of the details about me are easier to read in the book than talk about publicly. It gets into parts of my personal life that wasn’t easy to share.