A thoughtfully compiled and provocative collection of 19 essays, selected from the Orion quarterly by editorial-board member Sauer, that explore the possibilities of living artfully on the earth. On local ground, David Ehrenfeld, real-estate developer Wallace Kaufman, and others write of change in landscapes they know intimately and of the ways in which we as individuals and as a nation are letting the land go. John Stilgoe traces the self- conscious history of our physical and emotional relationship to beaches, and Barry Lopez describes the contradictions between a ``homogeneous national geography'' projected by politics and advertising and the ``rigors'' of heterogeneous ``local'' geographies that individuals actually experience. Other essays describe innovative ways to redefine lands and cultures physically through humanly populated biosphere reserves and species restoration. Encompassing a broader geography, essays by Susan Power Bratton and others acknowledge a vital sense of reciprocity between man and nature. Included is Darrell Addison Posey's ``The Science of the Mebengokre,'' whose revelations about the sophisticated land-management systems of a branch of Amazonian Indians offer one of this collection's most compelling examples of how misguided are our notions of ``pristine'' wilderness. Explicit in three exuberant essays on childhood and nature is the importance of encouraging children, as future caretakers, to develop connections with nature early in their lives. And by expanding the vocabulary of metaphor and challenging methods of observation, contributors to the book's final section reexamine the ways in which we engage nature so that, in our perceptions of earth and its inhabitants, we reside alongside it and not above it. A valuable and admirably nonpartisan reformulation of our cultural relationship to nature, containing work by many of America's foremost nature writers.
Read full book review >