Synopses & Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The acclaimed, award-winning historian—"America’s new past master" (Chicago Tribune)—examines the environmental legacy of FDR and the New Deal.
Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior celebrated Theodore Roosevelt’s spirit of outdoor exploration and bold vision to protect 234 million acres of wild America. Now, in Rightful Heritage, Brinkley turns his attention to the other indefatigable environmental leader—Teddy’s distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, chronicling his essential yet under-sung legacy as the founder of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and premier protector of America’s public lands. FDR built from scratch dozens of State Park systems and scenic roadways. Pristine landscapes such as the Great Smokies, the Everglades, Joshua Tree, the Olympics, Big Bend, Channel Islands, Mammoth Cave, and the slickrock wilderness of Utah were forever saved by his leadership.
Brinkley traces FDR’s love for the natural world from his youth exploring the Hudson River Valley and bird watching. As America’s president from 1933 to 1945, Roosevelt—consummate political strategist—established hundreds of federal migratory bird refuges and spearheaded the modern endangered species movement. He brilliantly positioned his conservation goals as economic policy to combat the severe unemployment of the Great Depression. During its nine-year existence, the CCC put nearly three million young men to work on conservation projects—including building trails in the national parks, pollution control, land restoration to combat the Dust Bowl, and planting over two billion trees.
Rightful Heritage is an epic chronicle that is both an irresistible portrait of FDR’s unrivaled passion and drive, and an indispensable analysis that skillfully illuminates the tension between business and nature—exploiting our natural resources and conserving them. Within the narrative are brilliant capsule biographies of such environmental warriors as Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes, and Rosalie Edge. Rightful Heritage is essential reading for everyone seeking to preserve our treasured landscapes as an American birthright.
"A marvelous book; one of Brinkley’s very best. FDR’s conservation achievements helped preserve the nation’s natural bounty and made it accessible to citizens as never before. By telling this grand story so well, Brinkley provokes readers to appreciate how the national government can perform wonders of its own." Sean Wilentz
"Douglas Brinkley is America’s most distinguished student of our nation’s environmental history. Rightful Heritage is a landmark achievement. The fullest and most compelling study of FDR’s extraordinary role in perpetuating our natural treasures, it is a must read for anyone interested in the environment." Robert Dallek
"Enjoyably exhaustive." New York Times Book Review
"High-spirited and admirably thorough." Washington Post
"[Douglas] Brinkley is one of the nation’s most acclaimed and popular historians [and] Rightful Heritage is a big book about a pivotal time in American history. Brinkley writes admiringly of Roosevelt’s record, but his tone is backed up by a rich trove of research." USA Today (Four Stars)
About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, CBS News Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him "America's new past master." Seven of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year 2012. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children. Brinkley has been awarded honorary doctorates from Trinity College (Connecticut), University of Maine, Hofstra University, and Allegheny College, among many others.