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

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

by Douglas Brinkley
     
 

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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 Alaska’s wilderness. Brinkley explores the colorful diversity of Alaska’s wildlife, arrays the forces that have wreaked havoc on its primeval

Overview

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 Alaska’s wilderness. Brinkley explores the colorful diversity of Alaska’s 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 Alaska’s past, Quiet World is a compelling call-to-arms for sustainability, conservationism, and conscientious environmental stewardship—a warning that the land once called Seward’s Folly may go down in history as America’s Greatest Mistake.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062005977
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/20/2011
Pages:
592
Sales rank:
845,943
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, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him “America’s new past master.” His recent Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children.

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