The Man from Clear Lake: Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson

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    On Earth Day 1970 twenty million Americans displayed their commitment to a clean environment.  It was called the largest demonstration in human history, and it permanently changed the nation’s political agenda. By Earth Day 2000 participation had exploded to 500 million people in 167 countries.
    The seemingly simple idea—a day set aside to focus on protecting our natural environment—was the brainchild of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. It accomplished, far beyond his expectations, his lifelong goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s and the world’s political agendas.
    A remarkable man, Nelson ranks as one of history’s leading environmentalists. He also played a major role as an early, outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, and as a senate insider was a key player in civil rights, poverty, civil liberties and consumer protection issues.
    The life of Nelson, a small town boy who learned his values and progressive political principles at an early age, is woven through the political history of the twentieth century. Nelson’s story intersects at times with Fighting Bob La Follette, Joe McCarthy, and Bill Proxmire in Wisconsin, and with George McGovern, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Russell Long, Walter Mondale, John F. Kennedy, and others on the national scene.

Winner, Elizabeth A. Steinberg Prize, University of Wisconsin Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Widely regarded as one of the leading environmentalists in American history, Gaylord Nelson is best known as the founder of Earth Day. This political biography tells the rest of the story—how a small town boy from Wisconsin became a national champion of a progressive agenda. Nelson's record on civil liberties, consumer issues, and Vietnam is remarkable. His story is an inspiration." —Al Gore

"Gaylord Nelson was one of the great public servants of the post–World War II era. This illuminating book is a priceless account of his life and accomplishments."—Tom Brokaw

"A fun book to read—filled with fascinating stories of politics in the twentieth century. We yearn for more political leaders like Gaylord who always voted his conscience and led with integrity and humor."—Bill Meadows, president, The Wilderness Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299196400
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 983,893
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Christofferson, a former journalist who has worked in local and state government, is a political campaign consultant based in Milwaukee.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note vii
Prologue: 22 April 1970 3
1 The Nelsons of Clear Lake 9
2 Happy 24
3 Into the World 34
4 General Nelson 40
5 Losing with La Follette 48
6 Building a Party 55
7 Taking on McCarthy 64
8 Getting Ready to Run 71
9 Nelson for Governor 80
10 A Two-Party State 90
11 An Ambitious Agenda 97
12 Family Fights 123
13 Still the Underdogs 129
14 The Conservation Governor 138
15 The Great Tax Debate 148
16 On to the Senate 158
17 The First Shall Be Last 168
18 Enlisting the President 175
19 Joining the Club 187
20 Defending the Constitution 197
21 Saving the Appalachian Trail 208
22 The Hard Detergent Battle 213
23 The Great Society 219
24 Islands and Rivers 239
25 Protecting Consumers 251
26 The Great Lakes 265
27 The Fight to Ban DDT 273
28 Vietnam 282
29 Earth Day 302
30 Immune to Presidential Fever 313
31 The Environmental Decade 327
32 A Lasting Legacy 338
Notes 351
Bibliography 389
Index 393
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