Advance praise for This Land:
"As Christopher Ketcham says so eloquently in these pages, the vast public lands are perhaps America's greatest legacy, a landscape of the scale necessary to help preserve the diversity of life on a hot planet in a tough century. That's why we need to pay such attention to the stories he tells of the threats they face." —Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
"Christopher Ketcham is a marvelously fresh and forceful voice, one unaffected by the squishy language and languid resistance of our grotesquely compromised (and well-funded) environmental organizations. Instructive and swiftly, smartly written, this book about the pillage and poisoning of our public lands reinvigorates writing as a force for outrage and change at the same time as it returns us to the clear-headed, big-hearted zeal of classic environmental works." —Joy Williams, author of The Florida Keys
"As potent in its way as Silent Spring. This book will open your eyes to the greed and abuse destroying our public lands. Better yet, it will make you angry." —T. C. Boyle, author of Outside Looking In
"[A]n impressive book debut . . . Echoing writers such as Bernard DeVoto, Edward Abbey, and Aldo Leopold, Ketcham underscores the crucial importance of diverse, wild ecosystems and urges ‘a campaign for public lands that is vital, fierce, impassioned, occasionally dangerous, without hypocrisy, that stands against the tyranny of money.’ Angry, eloquent, and urgent—required reading for anyone who cares about the Earth." —Kirkus, starred review
"At a time when our politics couldn’t be more superficial, shallow, and ephemeral, here is a war cry for the profound, deep, and long lasting. In this country, our public lands have always defined us, and the original vision for those lands was revolutionary. With This Land, Christopher Ketcham helps us see that vision anew, and offers us an equally revolutionary picture of our public lands as large, connected, healthy, cow-less, car-less (and sometimes people-less), and as perhaps our last hope in a warming world steeped in the politics of despair. In the thoughtful but rowdy tradition of Bernard DeVoto and Edward Abbey, with a dash of John Wesley Powell and Wallace Stegner thrown in, Ketcham reminds us that while the way we have treated our public lands has been criminal, we can find salvation, for them and for ourselves, in their restoration. I would challenge anyone to read this inspiring book and not be stirred to fight for this land." —David Gessner, author of All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West
"Brutally honest accounts about politicians are rarely welcomed by their subjects. Christopher Ketcham’s book about contemporary conflicts over public lands in the western United States is such a book. If I were an official of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or if I were associated with the livestock industry in the West, I'm sure that I would pay many hundreds of thousands of dollars to have it suppressed." —Michael Soulé, professor emeritus of environmental studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
"This Land is the book we've all been waiting for. It is simultaneously profound and incisive, breathtaking and heartbreaking, inspiring and sobering. Most of all it is imbued with a love of the land: the land we all love, the land we need, the land that needs us now more than ever. This book is desperately and wildly important." —Derrick Jensen, author of The Myth of Human Supremacy
"This may be the most important book about the American West since Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire and, like Abbey before him, Ketcham refuses to go down without a fight. This Land is a Code Red alert for what’s left of the West, an urgent howl to join him on the frontlines of the only war that really matters: the war against life on Earth. Nearly every page burns with a ferocious rage at the mutilation of the landscape that shaped the American character." —Jeffrey St. Clair, editor-in-chief of CounterPunch
How arrogance and greed are eviscerating public wilderness.
Making an impressive book debut, journalist Ketcham, a contributor to Harper's and National Geographic, among other publications, reports on his journeys throughout the West investigating the state of public lands: 450 million acres of land—of which national parks are only a minor portion—that are "managed in trust for the American people" by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Both agencies, argues the author persuasively, have shown inept oversight, caving to demands of oil, gas, mining, and lumber industries to "defund and defang" environmental laws, "leading always to the transfer of the commons into the hands of the few." In Utah, "rabid Mormons" stridently insist that the "entire federally managed commons" are constitutionally illegal. Latter-day Saints, Ketcham asserts, are anti-science, deny climate change, and hold "naked contempt" for environmental regulation. But they are not alone: Enormously wealthy—and federally subsidized—cattle ranchers, who dominate millions of square miles of public land throughout the West, viciously attack lawmakers and activists who dare to stand up to them, refuse to acknowledge endangered species, and mount sadistic hunts for wolves and coyotes that, they claim erroneously, threaten their cows. Grassland has been degraded by overgrazing and watersheds contaminated by bacteria from cattle waste. Republican and Democratic administrations—including "self-proclaimed protectors" like Barack Obama—have repeatedly betrayed their mandate to protect the environment. Wildlife Services, a Congressional agency, "kills anything under the sun perceived as a threat to stockmen." The Nature Conservancy, likewise, has bowed to corporate power, and federal funding has compromised the missions of well-meaning nonprofits. "To save the public lands," the author maintains, "we need to oppose the capitalist system." Echoing writers such as Bernard DeVoto, Edward Abbey, and Aldo Leopold, Ketcham underscores the crucial importance of diverse, wild ecosystems and urges "a campaign for public lands that is vital, fierce, impassioned, occasionally dangerous, without hypocrisy, that stands against the tyranny of money."
Angry, eloquent, and urgent—required reading for anyone who cares about the Earth.