A Word for Nature: Four Pioneering Environmental Advocates, 1845-1913

A Word for Nature: Four Pioneering Environmental Advocates, 1845-1913

by Robert L. Dorman


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The careers and ideas of four figures of monumental importance in the history of American conservation--George Perkins Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and John Wesley Powell--are explored in A Word for Nature. Robert Dorman offers lively portraits of each of these early environmental advocates, who witnessed firsthand the impact of economic expansion and industrial revolution on fragile landscapes from the forests of New England to the mountains of the West.
By examining the nineteenth-century world in which the four
men lived--its society, economy, politics, and culture--Dorman
sheds light on the roots of American environmentalism. He
provides an overview of the early decades of both resource
conservation and wilderness preservation, discussing how Marsh, Thoreau, Muir, and Powell helped define the issues that began changing the nation's attitudes toward its environment by the early twentieth century. Dorman's readings of works including Marsh's Man and Nature, Thoreau's The Maine Woods, Muir's The Mountains of California, and Powell's Report on the Lands of the Arid Region reveal their authors' influence on environmental thought and politics even up to the present day.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807846995
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 04/06/1998
Edition description: 1
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Robert L. Dorman is author of Revolt of the Provinces: The Regionalist Movement in America, 1920-1945.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. George Perkins Marsh
Chapter 2. Henry David Thoreau
Chapter 3. John Muir
Chapter 4. John Wesley Powell

George Perkins Marsh
Woodstock, Vermont, from Mt. Tom, late nineteenth century
Woodstock, Vermont, from Mt. Tom, present-day
Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau's Cove, Walden Pond, nineteenth-century view
John Muir
John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt at Yosemite Valley
John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell near the Grand Canyon

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Dorman's audience will find here not only clever, sometimes brilliant textual analysis, but grand synthesis presented with sophistication, irony, and humor.--Jack Temple Kirby, author of Poquosin: A Study of Rural Landscape and Society

An excellent introduction to the development of U.S. environmental attitudes during the period.--Choice

[An] important addition to the literature of environmentalism . . . presenting [a] cornerstone to the intellectual origins of today's environmental movement.--Western Historical Quarterly

By placing these early conservationists in a broadly contextual account of 19th-century society, economics, politics, and culture, Dorman helps us to see the value of their original achievements as well as the extent of their influence upon the modern environmental movement.--Virginia Quarterly Review

"Everyone interested in the foundations of the environmental movement should read this carefully researched, unusually stimulating, and gracefully written study.--Journal of American History

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