Beyond the Stony Mountains

Beyond the Stony Mountains : Following in the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark

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Description

America's great epic of exploration--the journey of Lewis and Clark--was also one of the most successful scientific expeditions in history. In notebooks filled with vivid and remarkably accurate descriptions of rivers, prairies, forests, mountains, native Americans, and wildlife, Lewis and Clark gave the world an image of wild country that has rarely been equaled. In this richly illustrated volume, which features more than one hundred photographs and maps, most in full color, noted ecologist and writer Daniel Botkin traces the footsteps of the two explorers as they journeyed from St. Louis, through the breathtaking vistas of the tall-grass prairie and Big Sky country, over the arduous Bitterroot Mountains on the ancient Lolo Trail, to arrive finally at the Pacific coast and its the rugged, rainy, and darkly wooded landscape. As we travel westward, Botkin introduces us to the natural wonders recorded by Lewis and Clark--still fresh portraits of a pristine land--and recounts their many dangerous, challenging, and sometimes strange adventures. Then in his own words he describes the same sites today, providing unique insights about our nation's changes to the land. For instance, the author recounts Lewis and Clark's travels through the great tall-grass prairie, vast plains that stretched to the horizon in every direction, stunningly beautiful land that, adds Botkin, with the eye of a concerned ecologist, has virtually disappeared today beneath the steel plow. This is only one of the key problems that are addressed on the trail we follow through this wonderful book. Others, such as the endangered grizzly bear and the vanishing California Condor, are brought to the reader's attention in prose both compelling and poignant. By the last page of this chronicle, we are filled with admiration for the natural beauty of the American West, a beauty that is slowly vanishing. An exquisitely illustrated and expertly written account of the western landscape, as it was seen by Lewis and Clark, Beyond the Stony Mountain recounts one of the great adventures of the American past while powerfully relating it to the American present.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 162.6 x 241.3 x 27.9mm | 861.84g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 13 line illustrations & 135 halftones
  • 0195162439
  • 9780195162431

Review quote

"Entertaining, thought-provoking, and well worth it. The conservation message is strong and urgent. Enthusiastically recommended."--Library Journal (starred review)"With the rush to publish before the Lewis and Clark expedition bicentennial ends in 2006, we've had an avalanche of works to overload our bookshelves. Now comes a work that deserves a space on our shelves and one that will earn a place as a premier study of the expedition. While specialized books on nearly every aspect of the expedition exist, we don't have nearly enough of such rich, thoughtful, well-written, 'big picture' books. Building on a decade of thought, research, and writing, Daniel Botkin brings his scientific insights together with his skill as a naturalist writer to span the centuries and apply modern ecological thinking to the work of these exemplary nineteenth-century explorer/naturalists. It's a remarkable feat. Botkin demonstrates once more that expedition writings offer endless opportunities for new discoveries." --Gary E. Moulton, Editor, Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, University of Nebraska-Lincolnshow more

About Daniel B. Botkin

Daniel B. Botkin is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is President of the Center for the Study of the Environment. A leading ecologist, he is the author of Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the 21st Century and Our Natural History: The Lessons of Lewis And Clark. He divides his time between San Francisco and New York City.show more

Review Text

Mishmash of American history, ecological survey, and travel guide surveys the state of Lewis and Clark's route as it exists today. Naturalist Botkin traveled this road previously in Our Natural History (1995), which traced Lewis and Clark's journey along the Missouri River. Here, he follows their trail with an eye to the changes that have occurred in the 200 years since the explorers blazed their way west. He makes some direct comparisons when focusing on the unique features of the environment that the two men catalogued-the Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis, the Loess Hills outside of Omaha, the lost midwestern prairies, the shape of the Missouri river, the Great Falls in Montana-but Botkin will not be constrained by his own literary device. His text roams far and wide, covering the geological forces that formed the landscape, the native flora and fauna and how it fares today, the climatic changes that are characteristic of different areas. The author extensively contemplates the behavior of rivers over time, considering various dams, power schemes, fishing efforts, bird habitats, conservation efforts, and floods. He compares historical attitudes toward wildlife with contemporary ones and (although it is not the main thrust of the work) puts forth his own philosophy of coexistence with the wild, a strategy that's equal parts conservation and intelligent development. Botkin also gives practical advice on how to see the sites he discusses: "State Route 50 crosses the Platte River at Louisville, Nebraska (reached from Lincoln by car via Interstate 80 to State Route 370)." All in all, there's unfortunately little of Lewis and Clark, since they provide the emotional thrust to the subject. Botkin may feel passionately about the land he discusses, but there's scant evidence of it in his choppy, flat, and oddly repetitive prose. A wealth of information, frustratingly jumbled. (Kirkus Reviews)show more