A Passion for Nature

A Passion for Nature

The Life of John Muir

Book - 2008
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A definitive biography traces the life of John Muir from his boyhood in Scotland up to his death on the eve of World War I and offers important insights into the passionate nature of America's first great conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club.
Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2008
ISBN: 9780195166828
Branch Call Number: 921 Muir
Description: 535 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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ChristchurchLib Jun 18, 2013

"Born in 1838 in Scotland, raised in Wisconsin, and educated at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, naturalist and pacifist John Muir became synonymous with the appreciation of nature and the modern environmentalist movement. In this detailed examination of Muir's life, biographer Donald Worster reveals the contrast between Muir's love of the outdoors and his father's strict Scottish Calvinism as he explores Muir's intellectual development. A Passion for Nature traces Muir's walk through the south-eastern U.S., his exploration of the Sierras, Alaska, and other parts of the world, and his determined advocacy for the preservation of wild spaces." June 2013 Biography and Memoir newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=645920

Mar 28, 2013

Some books’ ideas stream through your soul like a mighty wind. The unseen power of the wind has inspired many poets and romantics, and John Muir was both. In 1874 during a wind storm in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, he climbed to the top of a 100 foot tree and rode its wild swings for hours, drinking in the sounds, sights, and fragrance of the wind tossed pine forest beneath him. John Muir, the granddaddy of all of today’s tree huggers, should be much better known in Canada. And interestingly enough, he liked Canada and lived here for several years, one of the earliest American draft dodgers.
As an occasional hiker in the Sierras I know the force of Muir’s poetic rhetoric; today his beautiful words adorn many an historic marker or interpretive sign at its trailheads. But I wanted to find out more about who this man was, where he came from, and what else he did. I couldn’t have had a better guide to this exploration than Donald Worster, Professor of American History at the University of Kansas and one of the founders of the new field of environmental history. His biography of Muir is based on the highest scholarly standards and leads us through Muir’s voluminous private correspondence and journals in magisterial fashion. But this isn’t a dull book: at every step it reflects his subject’s passion for nature. Muir was not only a mountain man, writer, and conservationist; he was also a talented scientist with very little formal education, a world traveller, a rebellious son, and an effective (if often reluctant) political activist.
There isn’t space here to dwell on the many and fascinating narratives that made up Muir’s life, or the marvellous subtlety with which his biographer teases out all the interwoven and sometimes contradictory strands in his life and thinking. But I’ll just mention one that particularly resonated for me. Out of the ashes of Muir’s loss of faith in his father’s Scottish Calvinism, he forged his own personal philosophy (religion?) based on a deep optimism about nature’s ultimate benevolence, which nurtured him for the rest of his life. Each of us needs to hold on to that optimistic spirit as we respond to the titanic environmental challenges of the twenty-first century.

Feb 22, 2009

A wonderful portrait of Muir's life and times. For those already familiar with Muir's passion for nature, this book's value is in explaining the many complex influences that shaped the naturalist's world. The most surprising revelation - that he never set out to do what he accomplished. Like a good trail through nature, his life led Muir to a world of unexpected adventure and discovery.


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