The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960

Overview

The Quiet World is an epic history of the grassroots activists and artists who, with the U.S. federal government, saved vast reaches of wild Alaska from 1879 to 1960. Beginning with naturalist John Muir, who explored the towering glaciers of the Inside Passage, and ending with President Dwight Eisenhower, who created the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Brinkley showcases how extraction industry bigwigs were outfoxed by a colorful gallery of “wilderness believers,” including Bull Moose presidential ...

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The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960

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Overview

The Quiet World is an epic history of the grassroots activists and artists who, with the U.S. federal government, saved vast reaches of wild Alaska from 1879 to 1960. Beginning with naturalist John Muir, who explored the towering glaciers of the Inside Passage, and ending with President Dwight Eisenhower, who created the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Brinkley showcases how extraction industry bigwigs were outfoxed by a colorful gallery of “wilderness believers,” including Bull Moose presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt, indomitable U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, photographer Ansel Adams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Rachel Carson, and many others. Brinkley also details conservationists’ inspiration to protect Alaska’s natural resources for future generations and tells incredible stories of its wildlife.

The Quiet World is an ode to the great Alaskan outdoors, and as we grapple with the perils of global warming and oil spills, it is essential reading.

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Editorial Reviews

The Los Angeles Times
“Brinkley carves well-known figures with the tools of a skilled biographer. . . . This volume is required reading for anyone even mildly interested in the antecedents to U.S. environmental policy in the 21st century.”
The Christian Science Monitor
“A poignant cautionary tale for policymakers considering quick get-rich fixes to long-term problems with ecological implications. . . . In Brinkley’s hands, the still-raging battle to save Alaska’s wild character is riveting.”
The Washington Post
“Engrossing. . . . The Quiet World brims over with information and insight, passion and insistence. . . . A bit like Alaska itself: large, formidable, raw and ultimately unforgettable.”
The Seattle Times
“A very readable history of the preservationist movement across the nation.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A richly detailed, passionate and partisan account. . . . In lush prose, [Brinkley] captures Alaska’s pristine beauty.”
The Houston Chronicle
“An important book.”
Dennis Drabelle
Douglas Brinkley calls this history of Alaskan conservation…The Quiet World, but the book itself is anything but quiet…[it] brims over with information and insight, passion and insistence—and some carelessness. In fact, it's a bit like Alaska itself: large, formidable, raw and ultimately unforgettable…if, like me, you enjoy reading bracing accounts of conservation battles won against great odds by impassioned activists, writers and artists, you should find The Quiet World engrossing, despite its faults.
—The Washington Post
Kirkus Reviews

Vanity Fair contributing editor Brinkley (History/Rice Univ.; The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 2009, etc.) delivers a vigorous, thorough survey of Alaska's natural splendors, from John Muir's first treks into Glacier Bay in 1879 to President Eisenhower's establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Range in 1960.

"Seward's Folly" was acquired from the Russians under President Andrew Johnson in 1867 and would soon prove itself much more than a frozen wasteland, as the lucrative markets in coal, minerals, seal and mammal fur, gold and oil would unfurl. However, another trend by eager admirers of the land's natural beauty and abundant wildlife evolved into a powerful preservation movement, thanks to Muir's early writings and the founding of the Sierra Club; the 1899 scientific expedition to Alaska sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad owner E.H. Harriman (many in Alaska were already alarmed by the stripping of its natural resources for industry); and the advocacy for the land and its natives by amateur naturalist Theodore Roosevelt, among numerous others. As president, Roosevelt was the first to articulate a doctrine of conservation, as sketched later by the great environmentalist and writer Aldo Leopold, involving the "wise use" of the land and resources, the necessity of "public responsibility" for their care and the need for science to maintain them. Roosevelt's Bull Moose agenda inspired other progressives like Charles Sheldon, who fought to save the Denali wilderness as part of his work for the U.S. Biological Survey, and William Temple Hornaday, head of the Bronx Zoo and author ofOur Vanishing Wild Life (1913). Brinkley systematically works through the milestones of Alaskan preservation, including the moving paintings by Rockwell Kent and photographs by Ansel Adams, Adolph Murie's fight for the wolves, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas' position as the "leading light of the wilderness movement" during the New Deal, and writings by the Beats such as Gary Snyder.

Brinkley skillfully conveys how the natural beauty of Alaska worked its magic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062005977
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/20/2011
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 950,374
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet 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.

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