The Washington Post
Vanishing America: In Pursuit of Our Elusive Landscapesby James Conaway
A mixture of travelogue and personal narrative, James Conaway’s smart, informative essays offer an insightful depiction of his journeys between Washington, D.C., and Big Sur, California, as he tries to understand what has become of the places, people, and traditions that were once so precious but have now been irreparably changed. Incorporating the voices of… See more details below
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A mixture of travelogue and personal narrative, James Conaway’s smart, informative essays offer an insightful depiction of his journeys between Washington, D.C., and Big Sur, California, as he tries to understand what has become of the places, people, and traditions that were once so precious but have now been irreparably changed. Incorporating the voices of cowboys, real estate agents, activists, and many others, he raises vital questions about the merits of sprawling development and the ever-increasing use of resources in the name of progress.” He urges us to consider the value of preservation in our growth-driven culture, as well as the ramifications of prosperity on the places important to our national identity.
The Washington Post
In these perceptive essays, Conaway (The Far Side of Eden) shows how development and tourism are laying waste to America's natural and cultural landscapes. Entertaining as well as astute, the pieces revolve around his impressions of exceptional places he considers "physical and spiritual barometers" of the country's health, including the Boise River in Idaho (overused and polluted), Napa Valley in California (disfigured by gigantic wineries and McMansions) and national parks (considered "saleable products" by elected officials and adversely affected by too many tourists, toilets, buses, concessionaires and paved highways). On Western communal lands that should be preserved by the Bureau of Land Management, such as New Mexico's Bisti Badlands and Wyoming's Big Piney, energy exploration and extraction, grazing and all-terrain vehicles are taking their toll. On the grounds of Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral, "development needs" have resulted in new buildings, accommodations for tour buses and a huge gymnasium, so that an institution supposedly dedicated to saving souls has been turned into an "engine of tourism, development, and controversy." Conaway argues persuasively that these irreplaceable landscapes stand for the real America, but because we are sacrificing them to material concerns, we're losing our culture along with the very ground upon which America was built. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
- Counterpoint Press
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Meet the Author
James Conaway is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler as well as the author of ten previous books, including The Far Side of Eden: New Money, Old Land, and the Battle for Napa Valley. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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