Author: Jordan Fisher Smith
Release Date: 2016-06-07
The fascinating story of a trial that opened a window onto the century-long battle to control nature in the national parks. When twenty-five-year-old Harry Walker was killed by a bear in Yellowstone Park in 1972, the civil trial prompted by his death became a proxy for bigger questions about American wilderness management that had been boiling for a century. At immediate issue was whether the Park Service should have done more to keep bears away from humans, but what was revealed as the trial unfolded was just how fruitless our efforts to regulate nature in the parks had always been. The proceedings drew to the witness stand some of the most important figures in twentieth century wilderness management, including the eminent zoologist A. Starker Leopold, who had produced a landmark conservationist document in the 1950s, and all-American twin researchers John and Frank Craighead, who ran groundbreaking bear studies at Yellowstone. Their testimony would help decide whether the government owed the Walker family restitution for Harry's death, but it would also illuminate decades of patchwork efforts to preserve an idea of nature that had never existed in the first place. In this remarkable excavation of American environmental history, nature writer and former park ranger Jordan Fisher Smith uses Harry Walker's story to tell the larger narrative of the futile, sometimes fatal, attempts to remake wilderness in the name of preserving it. Tracing a course from the founding of the national parks through the tangled twentieth-century growth of the conservationist movement, Smith gives the lie to the portrayal of national parks as Edenic wonderlands unspoiled until the arrival of Europeans, and shows how virtually every attempt to manage nature in the parks has only created cascading effects that require even more management. Moving across time and between Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier national parks, Engineering Eden shows how efforts at wilderness management have always been undone by one fundamental problem--that the idea of what is "wild" dissolves as soon as we begin to examine it, leaving us with little framework to say what wilderness should look like and which human interventions are acceptable in trying to preserve it. In the tradition of John McPhee's The Control of Nature and Alan Burdick's Out of Eden, Jordan Fisher Smith has produced a powerful work of popular science and environmental history, grappling with critical issues that we have even now yet to resolve.
Author: Jordan Fisher Smith
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: 2006-05-01
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
A park ranger shares his experiences on the edge of civilization in the Sierras, including his confrontations with criminals and extreme sports enthusiasts, and his gruesome discovery of a female jogger who had been killed and partially consumed by a mountain lion. Reprint.
Author: Bill McKibben
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2014-09-03
Reissued on the tenth anniversary of its publication, this classic work on our environmental crisis features a new introduction by the author, reviewing both the progress and ground lost in the fight to save the earth. This impassioned plea for radical and life-renewing change is today still considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies. McKibben's argument that the survival of the globe is dependent on a fundamental, philosophical shift in the way we relate to nature is more relevant than ever. McKibben writes of our earth's environmental cataclysm, addressing such core issues as the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer. His new introduction addresses some of the latest environmental issues that have risen during the 1990s. The book also includes an invaluable new appendix of facts and figures that surveys the progress of the environmental movement. More than simply a handbook for survival or a doomsday catalog of scientific prediction, this classic, soulful lament on Nature is required reading for nature enthusiasts, activists, and concerned citizens alike.
As majestic as they are dangerous, and as timeless as they are current, bears continue to captivate readers. Speaking of Bears is not your average collection of stories. Rather it is the history, compiled from interviews with over 100 individuals, of how Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, all in California’s Sierra Nevada, created a human-bear problem so bad that there were eventually over 2,000 incidents in a single year. It then describes the pivotal moments during which park employees used trial-and-error, conducted research, invented devices, collaborated with other parks, and found funding to get the crisis back under control. Speaking of Bears is for bear lovers, national park buffs, historians, wildlife managers, biologists, policy and grant-makers, and anyone who wants to know the who, what, where, when, and why of what once was a serious human-bear problem, and the path these parks took to correct it. Although these Sierran parks had some of the worst black bear problems in the country, hosted much of the research, and invented the bulk of the technological solutions, they were not the only ones. For that reason, intertwining stories from several other parks including Yellowstone, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Banff-Canada are included. For anyone seeking solutions to human-wildlife conflicts throughout the world, the lessons-learned are invaluable and widely applicable.
Author: Andrés Ruzo
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2016-02-16
In this exciting adventure mixed with amazing scientific study, a young, exuberant explorer and geoscientist journeys deep into the Amazon—where rivers boil and legends come to life. When Andrés Ruzo was just a small boy in Peru, his grandfather told him the story of a mysterious legend: There is a river, deep in the Amazon, which boils as if a fire burns below it. Twelve years later, Ruzo—now a geoscientist—hears his aunt mention that she herself had visited this strange river. Determined to discover if the boiling river is real, Ruzo sets out on a journey deep into the Amazon. What he finds astounds him: In this long, wide, and winding river, the waters run so hot that locals brew tea in them; small animals that fall in are instantly cooked. As he studies the river, Ruzo faces challenges more complex than he had ever imaged. The Boiling River follows this young explorer as he navigates a tangle of competing interests—local shamans, illegal cattle farmers and loggers, and oil companies. This true account reads like a modern-day adventure, complete with extraordinary characters, captivating plot twists, and jaw-dropping details—including stunning photographs and a never-before-published account about this incredible natural wonder. Ultimately, though, The Boiling River is about a man trying to understand the moral obligation that comes with scientific discovery —to protect a sacred site from misuse, neglect, and even from his own discovery.
Author: Larry Len Peterson
Publisher: Sweetgrass Books
Release Date: 2017-09-11
Genre: Social Science
American Trinity is for everyone who loves the American West and wants to learn more about the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a sprawling story with a scholarly approach in method but accessible in manner. In this innovative examination, Dr. Larry Len Peterson explores the origins, development, and consequences of hatred and racism from the time modern humans left Africa 100,000 years ago to the forced placement of Indian children on off-reservation schools far from home in the late 1800s. Along the way, dozens of notable individuals and cultures are profiled. Many historical events turned on the lives of legendary Americans like the "Father of the West," Thomas Jefferson, and the "Son of the West," George Armstrong Custer - two strange companions who shared an unshakable sense of their own skills - as their interpretation of truths motivated them in the winning of the West. Dr. Peterson reveals how anti-Indian sentiments were always only obliquely about them. They were victims but not the cause. The Indian was a symbol, not a real person. The politics of hate and racism directed toward them was also experienced in prior centuries by Jews, enslaved Africans, and other Christians. Hatred and racism, when taken into the public domain, are singularly difficult to justify, which is why Europeans and Americans have always sought vindication from the highest sources of authority in their cultures. In the Middle Ages it was religion supplemented later by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. In nineteenth-century Europe and America, religion and philosophy were joined by science and medicine to support Manifest Destiny, scientific racism, and social Darwinism, all of which had profound consequences on Native Americans and the Spirit of the West. Presenting research in anthropology, archaeology, biology, history, law, medicine, religion, philosophy, and psychology, Dr. Peterson provides the latest observations that delineate why the Native American's life was destroyed. American Trinity is a stunning portrait, a view at once unique, panoramic, and intimate. It is a fascinating book that will make you think about the differences between belief and knowledge; about the self-skepticism of science and medicine; and about what aspects of the world we take on faith.
'My first serious blackout marked the line between sanity and insanity. Though I would have moments of lucidity over the coming days and weeks, I would never again be the same person ...' Susannah Cahalan was a happy, clever, healthy twenty-four-year old. Then one day she woke up in hospital, with no memory of what had happened or how she had got there. Within weeks, she would be transformed into someone unrecognizable, descending into a state of acute psychosis, undergoing rages and convulsions, hallucinating that her father had murdered his wife; that she could control time with her mind. Everything she had taken for granted about her life, and who she was, was wiped out. Brain on Fire is Susannah's story of her terrifying descent into madness and the desperate hunt for a diagnosis, as, after dozens of tests and scans, baffled doctors concluded she should be confined in a psychiatric ward. It is also the story of how one brilliant man, Syria-born Dr Najar, finally proved - using a simple pen and paper - that Susannah's psychotic behaviour was caused by a rare autoimmune disease attacking her brain. His diagnosis of this little-known condition, thought to have been the real cause of devil-possessions through history, saved her life, and possibly the lives of many others. Cahalan takes readers inside this newly-discovered disease through the progress of her own harrowing journey, piecing it together using memories, journals, hospital videos and records. Written with passionate honesty and intelligence, Brain on Fire is a searingly personal yet universal book, which asks what happens when your identity is suddenly destroyed, and how you get it back. 'With eagle-eye precision and brutal honesty, Susannah Cahalan turns her journalistic gaze on herself as she bravely looks back on one of the most harrowing and unimaginable experiences one could ever face: the loss of mind, body and self. Brain on Fire is a mesmerizing story' -Mira Bartók, New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Palace Susannah Cahalan is a reporter on the New York Post, and the recipient of the 2010 Silurian Award of Excellence in Journalism for Feature Writing. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, and is frequently picked up by the Daily Mail, Gawker, Gothamist, AOL and Yahoo among other news aggregrator sites.
Author: Steven R. Beissinger
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Release Date: 2017-01-10
Today, more than 292 million tourists visit U.S. national parks each year, enjoying the great outdoors and taking selfies with buffalos. And nearly 25,000 professionals, many of them scientists, help guide and educate those tourists. This is all thanks to a group assembled by Stephen T. Mather and Horace M. Albright in 1915 at a still-burgeoning University of California Berkeley campus. Together they plotted a future for the country s existing and evolving national parks. The result was legislation establishing the National Park Service, signed by Woodrow Wilson in 1916. The primary purpose of the park system was to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations . This statement of purpose has always harbored both tension and ambiguity as it does not envision a future in which that conservation and enjoyment of park resources might come into conflict, much less offer principles for striking a balance between the two. Nor does it explain what it means to keep park resources unimpaired for the future, which is where the divide between acceptable and unacceptable change to the parks might lie. Nor, finally, does it define or limit the universe of activities that constitute legitimate enjoyment of park resources. Those are questions that cannot be answered in the abstract, or forever. The principles articulated in the Organic Act are unchanging, but the way those principles apply to specific facts is necessarily a function of the times. How the mission of the US National Park System is interpreted has implications that go well beyond the resolution of specific management conflicts. In 2014, in anticipation of the 2016 centennial of the NPS s establishment, a group of incredible scientists and naturalists gathered at UC Berkeley, in partnership with National Geographic Society, and the NPS, to explore the history, present, and future of the NPS. Science for Parks, Parks for Science is a synthesis of that summit, as well as an opportunity for those who weren t among the 1,000 attendees to read and experience the level of scientific exchange and debate, and the policy implications that followed. Taking on that responsibility, this volume becomes not only a catalyst for park conservation in the US, but also an inspiration for park systems and management the world over."
New York Times Bestseller A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.
Author: Robert Moor
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2016-07-12
Winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award “The best outdoors book of the year” —Sierra Club A New York Times Bestseller A Best Book of the Year—as chosen by The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, Amazon, National Post, New York magazine, The Telegraph, Booklist, The Guardian Bookshop From a debut talent who’s been compared to Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey, David Quammen, and Jared Diamond, On Trails is a wondrous exploration of how trails help us understand the world—from invisible ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet. In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others fade? What makes us follow or strike off on our own? Over the course of the next seven years, Moor traveled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive. He learned the tricks of master trail-builders, hunted down long-lost Cherokee trails, and traced the origins of our road networks and the Internet. In each chapter, Moor interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing—combining the nomadic joys of Peter Matthiessen with the eclectic wisdom of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift. Throughout, Moor reveals how this single topic—the oft-overlooked trail—sheds new light on a wealth of age-old questions: How does order emerge out of chaos? How did animals first crawl forth from the seas and spread across continents? How has humanity’s relationship with nature and technology shaped world around us? And, ultimately, how does each of us pick a path through life? Moor has the essayist’s gift for making new connections, the adventurer’s love for paths untaken, and the philosopher’s knack for asking big questions. With a breathtaking arc that spans from the dawn of animal life to the digital era, On Trails is a book that makes us see our world, our history, our species, and our ways of life anew.
Top Dog introduces us to Lucca K458, a decorated and highly skilled military working dog. An extraordinary bond developed between Lucca and Marine Corps handler Chris Willingham, launching what became a legendary 400-mission career. Lucca belongs to an elite group trained to work off- leash at long distances from her handler. She and Willingham became so sought-after that units scheduled missions around their availability. The book describes, in gritty detail, their adventures , including tense, lifesaving explosive finds and rooftop firefights.
An evocative blend of history and nature writing that tells the story of Yellowstone’s evolving significance in American culture through the stories of ten iconic figures. Yellowstone is America's premier national park. Today is often a byword for conservation, natural beauty, and a way for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. But it was not always this way. Wonderlandscape presents a new perspective on Yellowstone, the emotions various natural wonders and attractions evoke, and how this explains the park's relationship to America as a whole. Whether it is artists or naturalists, entrepreneurs or pop-culture icons, each character in the story of Yellowstone ends up reflecting and redefining the park for the values of its era. For example, when Ernest Thompson Seton wanted to observe bears in 1897, his adventures highlighted the way the park transformed from a set of geological oddities to a wildlife sanctuary, reflecting a nation was concerned about disappearing populations of bison and other species. Subsequent eras added Rooseveltian masculinity, democratic patriotism, ecosystem science, and artistic inspiration as core Yellowstone hallmarks. As the National Park system enters its second century, Wonderlandscape allows us to reflect on the values and heritage that Yellowstone alone has come to represent—how it will shape the America's relationship with her land for generations to come.
A thought-provoking and surprising book that explores the ever-evolving relationship between humans and domesticated animals. The domestication of animals changed the course of human history. But what about the animals who abandoned their wild existence in exchange for our care and protection? Domestication has proven to be a wildly successful survival strategy. But this success has not been without its drawbacks. A modern dairy cow’s daily energy output equals that of a Tour de France rider. Feral cats overpopulate urban areas. And our methods of breeding horses and dogs have resulted in debilitating and sometimes lethal genetic diseases. But these problems and more can be addressed, if we have the will and the compassion. Human values and choices determine an animal’s lot in life even before he or she is born. Just as a sculptor’s hands shape clay, so human values shape our animals—for good and or ill. The little-examined, yet omnipresent act of breeding lies at the core of Gavin Ehringer's eye-opening book. You’ll meet cows cloned from steaks, a Quarter horse stallion valued at $7.5 million, Chinese dogs that glow in the dark, and visit a Denver cat show featuring naked cats and other cuddly mutants. Is this what the animals bargained for all those millennia ago, when they first joined us by the fire?