The Golden Bristled Boar:

                     Last Ferocious Beast of the Forest



The University of Virginia Press (Charlottesville, VA)

Co-publisher: Robert Hale, Ltd (London)

The Golden-Bristled Boar:

          Last Ferocious Beast of the Forest

Barnes & Noble

“THINK” --KERA Dallas, NPR affiliate

“Interesting gem of a book . . ." Kris Boyd


Mr. Greene's descriptions have the clarity one would expect from a poet, whether sketching the striped young boars, called marcassins, playing rough and tumble while looked over by the older sows, or recounting an old boar's happy mud bath. . . . A fascinating portrait of rural France and its cherished rites emerges as Mr. Greene negotiates the intricacies of la France profonde. . . . Eclectic to the end.  ---Lawrence Norfolk


After Greene (Water from Stone, 2007) impulsively purchased a deserted eighteenth-century presbytery in northern Burgundy, he received a Christmas gift from his neighbor—the shoulder, ribs, and loin of a wild boar. As he and his wife figured out how to cook it, he began to research these wild precursors of domestic pigs. When he managed to drive his car right into the middle of a boar hunt, he had his first sighting of live boars, and from this encounter, he made it a mission to see the wild boars in their natural state. In investigating an animal that can strongly alter its environment through sheer numbers and constant rooting, and that is firmly entrenched in human folklore (Norse goddess Freya rode a wild boar), Greene patrols the woods in search of boar compagnie (groups of females and young), visits museums in search of boar specimens and boar art, and studies the hunt and its aftermath, the feast. Complete with delectable-sounding recipes, this elegant portrait enchants.

— Nancy Bent 


Greene (American Univ. of Paris, France), US author and poet, describes his life when he and his wife moved to a French village located on the outskirts of a Burgundy forest. The gift of a wild boar carcass from a friendly provincial neighbor prompted a journey into discovering the secretive lives of the wild boars in the region. Part memoir, part historical examination, this book weaves a story that includes boars around the world and ways this species has influenced human cultures over time. Though it includes some aspects of natural history, Greene strives to provide a more entertaining work that focuses on human interactions and interpretations, which often depict boars as fierce animals of the night. Chapters include discussions of wild boars portrayed in art, mythology, folklore, and cultural customs. Greene explains how wild boar hunts have taken on ritualistic meanings in several cultures and how the actions of boars have given them the status of animals that are both revered and feared by different societies. Overall, this informative book will appeal to lay readers while also providing a basic understanding of the wild boar that will interest academic readers.


The Golden-Bristled Boar is an elegant book that looks at the landscape and ecology of what would seem to be or most inelegant natural neighbor -- the star of dark paintings and angry fables, as well as, by family connection, the food of colonial America. Jeffrey Greene leads you deep in the forests of Burgundy -- befriending hunters and biologists, and, along the way, bedazzling with stories of wild boar invasions throughout the swine-filled world. When you come out the other side, you are changed, not just in how your think about boars as a creature, but in how you think of them as the centerpiece of an ancient and wonderful country feast.”   --Robert Sullivan, author of Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

“A truly fascinating, lucidly written, informative, entertaining, and valuable contribution to the growing canon of pig literature, or even of literature in general.” --William Hedgepeth, author of The Hog Book

The wild boar appears to us as something straight out of a myth. But as Jeffrey Greene learned, these creatures--who live by night and, despite shrinking habitats and hordes of hunters, thrive on six continents--are very real.

Greene purchased an eighteenth-century presbytery in the Burgundian region of Puisaye, between the Loire and Seine Rivers of France. He soon discovered he’d moved to one of the most densely populated boar areas in Europe. Following the gift of a side of boar from a neighbor, and a dramatic early-morning encounter with a boar-hunting party and its prey, Greene became fascinated with the animal and immersed himself in the legend and the reality of the wild boar.

Although it has no natural enemies, the boar is in constant conflict with humans. Most societies consider it a pest, not only wreaking havoc on crops and livestock, but destroying golf-course greens in search of worms, even creating a hazard for drivers (hogs on the roads cause over 14,000 car accidents a year in France). It has also been the object of highly ritualized hunts, dating back to classical times.

The animal’s remarkable appearance--it can grow larger than a person, and the males sport prominent tusks, called “whetters” and “cutters”--has inspired artists for centuries; its depictions range from primitive masks to works of high art such as Pietro Tacca’s Porcellino and paintings by Velázquez and Snyders. The boar also plays a unique role in myth, appearing in the stories of Hercules and Adonis as well as in the folktale Beauty and the Beast.

The author’s search for the elusive animal takes him to Sardinia, Corsica, and Tuscany; he even casts an eye to the American South, where he explores the boar’s feral-pig counterparts and descendants. He introduces us to a fascinating cast of experts, from museum curators and scientists to hunters and chefs (who share their recipes) to the inhabitants of chateaux that have shared the ancient countryside with generations of boars. They are all part of a journey filled with wonders and discoveries about these majestic animals the poet Robinson Jeffers called “beautiful monsters.”