The BookBrowse Review

Published June 22, 2022

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

This America Of Ours
Bernard and Avis DeVoto and the Forgotten Fight to Save the Wild
by Nate Schweber
5 Jul 2022
352 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books
Genre: Biography/Memoir
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The untold story of the extraordinary fight to defend American wilderness from McCarthyism, and the radical couple who led the charge - and inspired a future of conservation

In late-1940s America, few writers commanded attention like Bernard DeVoto. Alongside his brilliant wife and editor, Avis, DeVoto was a firebrand of American liberty, free speech, and perhaps our greatest national treasure: public lands. But when a corrupt band of lawmakers, led by Senator Pat McCarran, sought to quietly cede millions of acres of national parks and other western lands to logging, mining, and private industry, the DeVotos entered the fight of their lives. Bernard and Avis built a broad grassroots coalition to sound the alarm—from Julia and Paul Child to Ansel Adams, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Alfred Knopf, Adlai Stevenson, and Wallace Stegner—while the very pillars of American democracy, embodied in free and public access to Western lands, hung in the balance. Their dramatic crusade would earn them censorship and blacklisting by Joe McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and Roy Cohn, and it even cost Bernard his life.

In This America of Ours, award-winning journalist Nate Schweber uncovers the forgotten story of a progressive alliance that altered the course of twentieth-century history and saved American wilderness—and our country's most fundamental ideals—from ruin.

"A stirring story of a husband and wife and their passionate devotion to the land—and great food...An exuberant celebration of an astounding couple." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] fascinating biography, worthy of two remarkable lives." - Publishers Weekly

"This America of Ours is so many fantastic things all at the same time: the story of a complex marriage, the history of one of our most important historians, and a razor's-edge drama about a critical fight to preserve America's public lands -- the wild places that define our nation's soul. And Schweber manages to tell all these stories in a thoroughly gripping narrative, a story whose pages I could not wait to turn." - Michael Punke, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Revenant, Ridgeline, and Last Stand

"It's eerie, the way the best reporters, working long years on deep research, end up publishing the exact right book for the moment when it's most needed. This uplifting, heart-rending biography of two of America's greatest conservationists and their fortitude in the face of governmental corruption and attacks on our public lands is inspiring. Nate Schweber has written a splendid love story as well as a beautiful book for our burning, struggling times." - Rick Bass, author of For a Little While

"Charming and absorbing, This America of Ours is the biography of a marriage between two lavishly talented characters, the witty and profane Avis DeVoto, who would become Julia Child's best friend and editor, and western historian and conservationist Bernard DeVoto. Schweber weaves together their fight to save public lands in the West with a moving account of their literary partnership and enduring love. The result is an exuberant delight, full of the couple's righteous invective against crooked politicians and their devotion to haute cuisine: Don't miss the recipe for the DeVoto Dry Martini." - Caroline Fraser, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Nate Schweber is an award-winning journalist for the New York Times and ProPublica, among many other publications. His recent work for the Times includes investigating sexual abuse within the scholastic athletic communities and a 2016 series about murders in the Bronx that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The Outdoor Writers Association of America awarded him a conservation writing award in 2015. He has also won magazine writing awards from that organization in 2015 and 2018, respectively, for a story about a biologist for the magazine Trout, and a story about prairie conservation for the Anthony Bourdain publication Explore Parts Unknown. He has appeared on Today, CNN, and WNYC. He lives in Brooklyn.

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