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A substantial contribution to understanding our environmental past.

America’s battle over conservation vs. preservation.

Clayton (Wonderlandscape: Yellowstone National Park and the Evolution of an American Cultural Icon, 2017, etc.) divides his timely book into two parts: the relationship between friends and rivals John Muir (1838-1914) and Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946) and the dense underbrush of events, debates, bills, and laws regarding how America would protect public lands “that demonstrate our society’s relationship with nature.” Muir, co-founder of the Sierra Club, was a prolific author, scientist, and political activist who helped protect Yosemite. He was raised in an evangelical farming family but slowly turned away from it, passionately appreciating God through the works of nature. Pinchot’s family was wealthy. He dreamed of becoming America’s first forester and served as President Theodore Roosevelt’s chief adviser on environmental issues. Muir too was friends with the nature-loving president. Pinchot went on to found the U.S. Forest Service in 1905. Clayton looks at the issue of public lands through the lens of these two, seemingly like-minded men: prophet vs. statesman, a romantic vs. a practical man, and Muir’s moral authority vs. Pinchot’s tactical genius. As the author shows, they were collaborative rivals, each offering “alternative paths to articulating a constructive societal relationship to nature.” He uses the battle over damming Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide water to San Francisco as a key factor in understanding the Muir-Pinchot rivalry. Muir fought hard against it; Pinchot acquiesced. Muir lost. Ultimately, “their friendship was drowned under a reservoir.” The book is populated with a number of fascinating figures: Frederick Law Olmsted; co-editor of The Century magazine, Robert Underwood Johnson; and Aldo Leopold, who argued for balancing the use of public land with sustainable logging and water supplies. Today, Clayton writes, we need a “visionary management framework,” not “culture wars.”

A substantial contribution to understanding our environmental past.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-080-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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