PROMISED LAND: Adventures and Encounters in Wild America by Michael Frome

PROMISED LAND: Adventures and Encounters in Wild America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rambling, preachy recollections of wilderness places and people, by a writer and lecturer who's long been active in wildlife-protection circles. We meet a couple running a small lodge in the deep seclusion of Lake Clark, Alaska; the leader of a vain attempt to save a unique canyon of California's Stanislaus River from an Army Corps of Engineers dam; the late William O. Douglas as recalled by two Washington State neighbors; the paraplegic mayor who led tiny Crested Butte, Colorado in a fight against a molybdenum-mining scheme; a Minnesota lake-resort owner encountered first as a dogsled driver at a WW II Maine airbase, nearly 40 years later on his own home territory. Frome also calls up Thoreau, John Muir, John Wesley Powell, and Joseph Wood Krutch in landscapes that he has visited through their writings. In a leisurely way, he does present a huge range of wilderness and park areas, from the Delaware Water Gap to the Selway-Bitterroot fiver systems of Montana and Idaho. Yet all this promising material is vitiated by disconnected swatches of spiritual autobiography, cant like ""wild nature evokes lofty, noble thoughts and words,"" and grating little sneers at those not as lofty or noble as Frome and cohorts (""Jeff and Cindy, alas""--chance companions on a Yellowstone horse trip--""remained consciously upscale""). The book's best parts are those in which other people are left to tell their own stories and deliver their own conclusions about the future of wilderness and humanity. ""We're at the state of teenagers driving around in a very fast car,"" comments the Stanislaus River crusader, "". . .and we don't know it's nighttime and it's dangerous and we can't see how dangerous it is."" Too bad there's not more of this sort of truth, and less of Frome's pious flap-doodle.

Pub Date: April 22nd, 1985
Publisher: Morrow