( from the publisher's press release )
John Muir: Apostle of Nature
by Thurman Wilkins
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman
336 pages, 23 illustrations, 3 maps,
bibliographical notes, index, $24.95, cloth.
Naturalist and conservation leader John Muir's life and dedication to the preservation movement are discussed in a new book published by the University of Oklahoma Press. John Muir: Apostle of Nature, by Thurman Wilkins, is Volume 8 in The Oklahoma Western Biographies.
Nearly a century after John Muir's death, his works remain in print, his name is familiar, and his thought is much with us. How Muir's life made him a leader and brought him insights destined to resonate for decades is the central question underlying this biography by Thurman Wilkins.
Born in Scotland, Muir came from a stern background of religious fundamentalism. Life grew sterner yet when the family immigrated to the United States and undertook the backbreaking task of developing a farm in Wisconsin, but Muir's fertile mind enabled him to escape farm drudgery by means of bizarre inventions. Armed with a university introduction to geology and botany, he became a consummate walker, tramping the Canadian forests, the southeastern woodlands, the Sierra Nevada, and several Alaskan glaciers until he had learned about wilderness at nature's own knee.
Profoundly attached to dramatic wild places and plants, and to the Sierra and the redwoods in particular, Muir spearheaded efforts to protect forest areas and have some designated as national parks. Muir's wilderness ethic, as revealed in his books, letters, and journals, rests on his conception of the proper relationship between human culture and wild nature as one of humility and respect for all life.
In the last decades of his life, John Muir was committed to preserving wild places for their own sake, because of their spiritual and aesthetic values. He became the acknowledged leader of the preservation wing of the conservation movement, and today the half-million strong Sierra Club that he founded for mountain advocacy and headed until his death, continues to shape legislation and public opinion regarding the wilds.
John Muir's views seem scarcely to have aged; he is a vivid continuing presence in preservationism and remains its chief apostle.
Thurman Wilkins, Professor Emeritus of English in New York's Queen's College, is also the author of Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, and Cherokee Tragedy: The Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People, both published by the University of Oklahoma Press.
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