In 1953, birding guru Roger Tory Peterson and noted British naturalist
James Fisher set out on what became a legendary journey - a one hundred day
trek over 30,000 miles around North America. They traveled from
Newfoundland to Florida, deep into the heart of Mexico, through the
Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, and into Alaska's Pribilof Islands. Two
years later, Wild America, their classic account of the trip, was
On the eve of that book's fiftieth anniversary, naturalist Scott
Weidensaul retraces Peterson and Fisher's steps to tell the story of wild
America today. How has the continent's natural landscape changed over the
past fifty years? How have the wildlife, the rivers, and the rugged,
untouched terrain fared? The journey takes Weidensaul to the coastal
communities of Newfoundland, where he examines the devastating impact of
the Atlantic cod fishery's collapse on the ecosystem; to Florida, where he
charts the virtual extinction of the great wading bird colonies that
Peterson and Fisher once documented; to the Mexican tropics of Xilitla,
which have become a growing center of ecotourism since Fisher and
Peterson's exposition. And perhaps most surprising of all, Weidensaul
finds that much of what Peterson and Fisher discovered remains untouched
by the industrial developments of the last fifty years.
Poised to become a
classic in its own right, Return to Wild America is a sweeping
survey of the natural soul of North America today.
Pulitzer Prize finalist Weidensaul retraces Peterson and Fisher's journey and chronicles the changes, both good and bad, in this in depth account. Amongst the bad news is the spread of invasive species, chemical pollution, global warming, species decline, over-logging and urban sprawl (for example in 15 years Pennsylvania has increased its "urban footprint" by 47% while its population has increased by only 2.5%). (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
... in ticking off environmental legislation that simply didn't exist in 1953 ... Weidensaul documents a strong record of securing wildlife resources. Yet the inexorable sprawl of human development continues to annihilate natural habitat at an alarming rate .... A carefully documented, well-informed conclusion that the jury's still out.
Starred Review. In the midst of environmental-policy gloom and global-warming doom, Weidensaul's poetic account of his travels to several scattered wilderness oases of North America is an unexpected tonic.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Starred Review. Weidensaul ... explicates the unintentionally deleterious effect human activities are having on the biosphere. But ... also revels in the ingenuity and beauty, resiliency and resurgence of nature, and reports on impressive conservation success stories.
Library Journal - Henry T Armistead
All in all, an engaging and most informative sequel; highly recommended.
Kenn Kaufman, author of Kaufman Field Guides
Peterson and Fisher's Wild America was one of the all-time great nature books. On the golden anniversary of its publication, Scott Weidensaul, one of the greatest living nature writers, proves himself a worthy successor to the original authors as he examines what has been lost and celebrates what remains of America's wild nature. Part investigative reporting, part lyrical celebration, this is one of the most important books of the decade, and it should be required reading for all who love the outdoors.
William Souder, author of Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America
News from the natural world is so rarely heartening these days that Scott Weidensaul's bracing inventory of America's wild places and all that still lives in them comes as a bit of a shock. With a keen eye for all that we've lost and all that yet remains, this book is a tale both cautionary and optimistic. Best of all is the presence on every page of Weidensaul himself, an enthusiastic observer who gives generously of his own sense of awe.
About the author: Born in 1959, Scott Weidensaul has lived almost all of his life among the long ridges and endless valleys of eastern Pennsylvania, in the heart of the central Appalachians, a landscape that has defined much of his work.
He has written more than two dozen books on natural history, including Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds (1999), which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. He lives in the Pennsylvania Appalachians.
Some key events in the USA environmental movement:
1864: Legislation passed making Yosemite Valley into a state park.
1866: The word 'ecology' is coined by a German biologist, Ernst Haeckel.
1877: Appalachian Mountain Club founded.
1872: Yellowstone becomes the first national park.
A decade ago Philip Connors left work as an editor at the Wall Street Journal and talked his way into a job as one of the last fire lookouts in America. Fire Season is Connors's remarkable reflection on work, our place in the wild, and the charms of solitude.
When Mark Obmascik's twelve-year-old son gets bitten by the climbing bug, he can't resist the opportunity for some father-son bonding. But after their first joint climb, Obmascik decides to scale all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot mountains - and to do them in less than one year.
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