Strange Genius: The Life of Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the 1870s, Ferdinand Hayden was well known throughout America and Europe for his systematic explorations of the American West. One of the last generalists, he collected rocks, fossils and natural history specimens; his geologic maps made with Fielding B. Meek became the basis for all future studies of Western geology. Hayden literally put Yellowstone on the map; he documented the wonders of the region, and he utilized photography in his reports as early as 1868. For all his achievements, he has become the forgotten man in the history of Western exploration. Foster, adjunct professor of history at the University of Colorado, tells an engrossing story of a loner ``who wrought great deeds for his own benefit, who annoyed almost everyone he knew and thrived on controversy.'' He vividly portrays the personal hostilities and professional jealousies in which Hayden was embroiled, arguing that his reputation was eventually destroyed by John Wesley Powell and Clarence King, who also conducted surveys of the West. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Foster (history, Univ. of Colorado, Denver) has written a good biography of Hayden, who is chiefly remembered as the popularizer of the idea that the Yellowstone region should be designated a national park. Using archival sources as well as Hayden's publications and those of his survey, Foster shows how Hayden became one of the foremost naturalists and geologists of his day, the director of the largest and most comprehensive of the surveys that operated in the West after the Civil War, and a science popularizer. The result is a fascinating look at how the West was revealed to the nation and how the urge for reform and rivalries among the four federally supported surveys led to the formation of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1879. This first biography of Hayden is recommended for libraries with collections on geology and the West, but it will also appeal to knowledgeable lay readers.-Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570980046
  • Publisher: Rinehart, Roberts Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/1994
  • Pages: 460
  • Product dimensions: 6.33 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.34 (d)

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