John Muir

John Muir : The Scotsman who saved America's wild places

4.16 (36 ratings by Goodreads)
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John Muir is regarded as the 'father of America's national parks' and is a towering figure in the history of that country's involvement with ecology. Born into a harsh home in Dunbar, Scotland he would often escape to revel in the birds and wildlife of the area. When his father suddenly uprooted the family and moved to the United States, the oppression he associated with his childhood continued - and so did his involvement with the natural world. Despite the difficulty of his formative years Muir grew up to be a man of great joy - first an inventor and then an explorer, he found his haven in the mountains of Sierra Nevada. He was a fascinating character: on the one hand a recluse, who sought solitude, and on the other a passionate activist, determined to save the places he loved. A strong believer in both God and the essential goodness of humanity, he was the founder and first president of the Sierra Club. This wonderful memoir pays tribute to a giant of ecology and is essential reading for lovers of natural history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 25.4mm | 317.51g
  • Lion Books
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 8pp b/w plate section
  • 0745956661
  • 9780745956664
  • 354,462

Review quote

John Muir changed the world - yet in this country we know almost nothing of him. Perhaps it's true that a prophet is without honour in his own land, but Mary Colwell is seeking to put that right, and she does him justice in this lively and accessible account. I hope it ensures that he now achieves the recognition in his homeland that is long overdue -- George Monbiot John Muir is now regarded as the father of the great American national parks, a man who was far ahead of his time when he urged Americans to balance their headlong rush to development with a respect for nature, and especially for their unique wilderness areas. In this book, Mary Colwell, writer and film-maker, presents a clear and engaging account of Muir's harsh upbringing in Scotland, and his later public role in the United States, where he led by example, living off the land in a minimal way, and writing powerfully about his love of Nature -- Professor Mike Benton This is a most important biography. As environmentalists we may feel that we already know the man and his achievements but Mary Colwell gives us the whole life which is much less familiar. It was complex and not always easy. From harsh beginnings both physical and mental Muir emerged as a great speaker and writer about the natural world with huge influence in the USA and beyond. The most compelling aspect of Muir's character is that, from childhood, he had an intense emotional and spiritual response to nature in all its forms. Colwell emphasises this at every point in her biography and correctly so. This is his key message to us now. We need to love the Earth for only from love can we generate a proper concern without which our species has no long-term future. -- Professor Aubrey Manning OBE In his Foreword, Jonathon Porritt says `John Muir was indeed a quite extraordinary man ... the author eloquently captures what it was that made him so special "as a naturalist, pioneering explorer, botanist, glaciologist, mystic, writer and activist."' -- Jonathon Porritt 'As this book so beautifully makes clear, John Muir deserves to better known by British naturalists. Read this and meet the man whose writing, commitment and integrity persuaded a president that nature matters.' -- Professor Tim Birkhead FRS "I wondered what an author could possibly find to say about Muir that had not been said before, but I found your thoughts fresh, thoughtful, and perceptive. For a British reader, who is likely new to Muir, you have provided an excellent starting point for understanding this fascinating man." -- Bill Tweed, former Chief Naturalist for Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks "Mary Colwell has performed a great service in bringing this engaging character to our attention. Her very readable account of his colourful life, and the contradictions within it, is liberally leavened with quotations from his extensive writings." -- The Church Times
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About Mary Colwell

Mary Colwell is an award winning TV, radio and internet producer, who makes programmes for the BBC and the independent sector, mainly on nature and the environment. She is also a presenter and public speaker, a feature writer for The Tablet and a consultant on the relationship between religion and the natural world. In the last 4 years, she has won 14 major broadcasting awards, including a Gold for the Best Internet Production in the Sony Radio Academy Awards. Sir Jonathon Porritt is an environmentalist and writer, a former Chair of the UK Ecology Party (now the Green Party) and a co-founder of Fprum for the Future.
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Rating details

36 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 44% (16)
4 36% (13)
3 14% (5)
2 3% (1)
1 3% (1)
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