The Promise of the Grand Canyon: John Wesley Powell's Perilous Journey and His Vision for the American West

The Promise of the Grand Canyon: John Wesley Powell's Perilous Journey and His Vision for the American West

by John F. Ross


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“A convincing case for Powell’s legacy as a pioneering conservationist.”—The Wall Street Journal

"A bold study of an eco-visionary at a watershed moment in US history."—Nature

A timely, thrilling account of the explorer who dared to lead the first successful expedition down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon—and waged a bitterly-contested campaign for sustainability in the West.

John Wesley Powell’s first descent of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869 counts among the most dramatic chapters in American exploration history. When the Canyon spit out the surviving members of the expedition—starving, battered, and nearly naked—they had accomplished what others thought impossible and finished the exploration of continental America that Lewis and Clark had begun almost 70 years before.

With The Promise of the Grand Canyon, John F. Ross tells how that perilous expedition launched the one-armed Civil War hero on the path to becoming the nation’s foremost proponent of environmental sustainability and a powerful, if controversial, visionary for the development of the American West. So much of what he preached—most broadly about land and water stewardship—remains prophetically to the point today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525429876
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 840,324
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

John Ross is a former editor of American Heritage and an adventure writer with extensive whitewater experience. His previous books are Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed and War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier, which won the Fort Ticonderoga Award for Contributions to American History.

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Chapter 1

Excerpted from "The Promise of the Grand Canyon"
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Copyright © 2019 John F. Ross.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

1 Into the Cauldron 5

2 Osage Oranges and Pink Muckets 24

3 Thinking Bayonets 46

4 First Thoughts West 71

5 Descent 104

6 The Canyon 133

7 Encore 180

8 Fighting the National Surveys 212

9 A Radical Idea 243

10 Taking Over Washington 274

11 A Tough Opponent 300

12 Last Stand 326

Epilogue 338

Notes 343

Index 367

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