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The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960by Douglas Brinkley
"Few of us are lucky enough to find our lifework; those who do are likely to experience exhilaration, fascination, joy and deep fulfillment in its pursuit, not to mention leaving themselves open to failure, derision, exhaustion or utter despair. So it's safe to assume that Douglas Brinkley does not refer to the Wilderness Cycle, his multi-volume history of the United States conservation movement, as 'my lifework' lightly."
Synopses & Reviews
A riveting history of America's most beautiful natural resources, The Quiet World documents the heroic fight waged by the U.S. federal government from 1879 to 1960 to save wild Alaska — Mount McKinley, the Tongass and Chugach national forests, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Lake Clark, and the Coastal Plain of the Beaufort Sea, among other treasured landscapes — from the extraction industries. Award-winning historian Douglas Brinkley traces the wilderness movement in Alaska, from John Muir to Theodore Roosevelt to Aldo Leopold to Dwight D. Eisenhower, with narrative verve. Basing his research on extensive new archival material, Brinkley shows how a colorful band of determined environmentalists created the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge just before John F. Kennedy became president.
Brinkley introduces a lively gallery of characters influential in preserving Alaska's wilderness resources: the indomitable U.S. Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas, who championed the Brooks Range; charming Ivy League explorer Charles Sheldon, who led the campaign to create Denali National Park; intrepid Bob Marshall, who cofounded The Wilderness Society; hermit illustrator Rockwell Kent, who lived in isolation on Fox Island like a modern Thoreau; nature photographer Ansel Adams, whose image Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake set off a tsunami of public interest in America's tallest peak; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Rachel Carson, who promoted proper ocean stewardship; among many more.
Wildlife fervently comes to life in The Quiet World: Brinkley tells incredible stories about the sea otters in the Aleutians, moose in the Kenai Peninsula, and birdlife across the Yukon Delta expanse while exploring the devastating effects that reckless overfishing, seal slaughter, and aerial wolf hunting have wrought on Alaska's once-abundant fauna. While taking into account Exxon Valdez-like oil spills, The Quiet World mainly celebrates how the U.S. government has preserved many of Alaska's great wonders for future generations to enjoy.
"A scrupulous, dramatic chronicle of the complex struggle to protect Alaska’s glorious wilderness and wildlife in the years before it became a state. . . Essential to understanding today’s environmental challenges, Brinkley’s Alaskan history and pantheon of valiant conservationists is boldly original, enlightening, enthralling, and profoundly moving." Booklist (starred review)
Book News Annotation:
In what is clearly a labor of love, Brinkley (history, Rice U.) recounts an environmentalist's history of Alaska from its purchase by the US in 1880 to the formation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1960. He charts the wilderness movement through the lives of advocates ranging from itinerant artists and lady bush pilots, to ardent wildlife biologists, to a Supreme Court justice and the President of the United States. Using these biographies as mileposts, he chronicles such conservation achievements as the Glacier Bay and Denali National Parks, Gates of the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve, and the Tongass and Chugach National Forests. Brinkley sketches a portrait of stunning locales and abundant wildlife; industry; politics; unremitting progress; and a surprisingly diverse cast of champions, including John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Ansel Adams, Rachel Carson, Allen Ginsberg, and even the Walt Disney Studios. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this follow up to his acclaimed Wilderness Warrior, New York Times-bestselling historian Brinkley offers a fascinating look at Alaska's wilderness.
In this fascinating follow-up to his New York Times bestseller Wilderness Warrior, acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley offers a riveting, expansive look at the past and present battle to preserve Alaskas wilderness. Brinkley explores the colorful diversity of Alaskas wildlife, arrays the forces that have wreaked havoc on its primeval arctic refuge—from Klondike Gold Rush prospectors to environmental disasters like the Exxon-Valdez oil spill—and documents environmental heroes from Theodore Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower and beyond. Not merely a record of Alaskas past, Quiet World is a compelling call-to-arms for sustainability, conservationism, and conscientious environmental stewardship—a warning that the land once called Sewards Folly may go down in history as Americas Greatest Mistake.
About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him "America's new past master." Six of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year, including his most recent, The Wilderness Warrior. He is the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for The Great Deluge. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children.
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