This week in The Atavist, writer (and WIRED’s Mr. Know-It-All columnist) Jon Mooallem describes the hippo ranching scheme and the story of two fascinating men behind it: one a modest frontiersman and soldier of fortune, the other a self-aggrandizing con man. Both were spies. Each was sworn to kill the other. But the great cause of hippo ranching brought them together.
Mooallem spoke with WIRED about this odd episode in American history and the future that might have been. An excerpt follows.