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Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement Paperback – January 1, 2005

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Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement + Wilderness and the American Mind: Fifth Edition + Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sutter ably demonstrates that all four founders of the Wilderness Society feared that roads and cars were destroying the last remnants of American wilderness, abetted by government's willingness to encourage modernization and tourism. Nicely written; extensively referenced."―Choice

"Driven Wild is a fresh look at the origins of the wilderness movement that deserves a place on the shelf of both geographers and historians..An excellent addition to conservation literature."―Historical Geography

"Driven Wild is an outstanding scholarly achievement and is one of the best books ever written about environmental politics..[It] deserves to be read by a wide audience; there is no doubt that its conclusions are important and will frame further discussions about this aspect of American environmental history and policy."―Electronic Green Journal

"A superb study..Sutter's historical reexamination of the origins of wilderness policy is the most sophisticated and thorough entry in the historiography of wilderness that I have yet seen. As such, it is a must read for environmental historians."―H-Net Book Review

"Driven Wild is essential reading for all those interested in the history of conservation and the cultural development of the wilderness ideal. It ably illustrates how far the automobile shapes not just our cities and our civilization, but also our visions of nature."―The Journal of Arizona History

Review

"Sutter’s most striking contribution in this book is to argue that the movement to protect wilderness had less to do with staving off threats posed by the rapacious activities of an industrial economy than with resisting the onslaught of automobile-owning consumers seeking recreational opportunities in rural and wild places."―William Cronon, from the introduction

"One must be impressed by the depth of historical research Sutter does to document the intellectual and philosophical roots of the wilderness movement. Interestingly, the issues he details continue to be the defining issues for the wilderness movement in the twenty-first century."―William H. Meadows, president, The Wilderness Society

"Napoleon famously said that an army travels on its stomach. The destruction of wilderness, however, travels by road. The pioneers of wilderness area protection know this well, as Paul Sutter clearly shows in Driven Wild. All thinking conservationists must read this powerful new exploration of early environmentalism in America."―Dave Foreman, chairman, The Wildlands Project

"The preservation of wilderness is one of America’s greatest cultural achievements, and it is worth remembering how much complex thought has gone into making it happen. Paul Sutter restores to us a generation of activists who demand our respectful attention. They were subtle in their thinking, compassionate in their social sympathies, and critical in their response to consumer society. Well researched and skillfully written, this book will do much to elevate the contemporary debate over wilderness to higher ground."―Donald Worster, University of Kansas

"Driven Wild is an important and long-needed book capturing the social, cultural, and intellectual milieu at the dawn of the organized wilderness movement in the United States."―Mark Harvey, author of A Symbol of Wilderness: Echo Park and the American Conservation Movement

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Product Details

  • Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295982209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295982205
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,144,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on July 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a nice example of how a close look at unfamiliar stories can help you reinterpret familiar stories. Environmental historians have focused on the classic conservation debates before World War I or on the modern debates from the New Deal or the 1960s onward. Sutter looks instead at the 1920s, focusing on four leading figures in the founding of The Wilderness Society. While Bob Marshall and Aldo Leopold are familiar figures, looking at the 1920s provides a reinterpretation of their intellectual evolution - - an interpretation that does not see this period in teleological terms as an evolving understanding of wilderness.

Sutter expected to find arguments against resource extraction and modern industry. Instead, he found that the automobile, roads, and recreational motoring concerned his subjects. (Benton MacKaye was the least concerned of the four, and this chapter is the least successful in this book.) With this discovery, Sutter turned to the material context of the 1920s instead of a writing a traditional intellectual history. This context included an extraordinary expansion of the automobile and new forms of tourism and recreation.

Looking at this period responds to many revisionist histories of the idea of wilderness. Critics see wilderness as an elite project unconnected to concerns for social justice and the lower classes. Sutter shows that the interwar movement shared these critics' concerns about consumer culture, race, class - - and saw wilderness as a solution to those problems.

In short, this is a brief but remarkable book that is well worth reading for anyone interested in the history of environmental and wilderness thinking in the United States.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annette Lamb on December 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
Based on his doctoral dissertation topic, Sutter does an excellent job focusing in on the origins of the wilderness movement from the 1910s through 1930s. Through chapters on Wilderness Society founders Aldo Leopold, Robert Sterling Yard, Benton MacKaye, and Bob Marshall, the author examines the thinking that led to the need to formally establish wilderness areas in the United States. He stresses concerns about captialism and mass consumption, road construction in the National Parks, and the role of the CCC in expanding building in natural areas. In addition, he explores the debate about the purpose and definition of "wildness" and "wilderness" that are still being debated 100 years later.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By green chili reader on August 1, 2015
Format: Paperback
Environmental history is intrinsically faddish, and its appeal as a scholarly point of departure often has more in it of phrenology and the pet rock than its proponents would ever care to admit. This sad reality does not have to be self-defeating (as the transformative works of Louise Erdrich, Sue Hubbell, and Ursula LeGuin demonstrate). But for environmental history to serve effectively as a springboard to a more nuanced consideration of women and men’s relation to the land, it has to look forward. It has to stimulate. It has to hold out hope for a broader comprehension of both the human and ecological tragedy that has plagued us in the past and will for the foreseeable future. Prof. Sutter's detailed description of outdoor recreation and leisure activities in the early 20th century does very little of this. It does, to be fair, supply an intriguing thesis: that the concept of “wilderness” was unrelated to the presence of virgin landscapes per se, and drew instead from a social perception of “wildness,” i.e., of the absence of artificial controls. This is arguably an interesting point but instead of exploring it, Sutter lets the details do the talking. He provides good pocket biographies of four figures of note in the early Wilderness Society, but gives the reader no reason to suppose that these men were representative of anything other than themselves. In fact, he never gets beyond a staid and traditionally masculine definition of recreation. This just won’t do in a world where thousands attend “Burning Man” festivities every year in order to get in touch with their deeper nature. Also, on a somewhat different point, Sutter's text does not really prove that the struggle against Henry Ford and the proliferation of the Model T “launched” the modern Wilderness Movement.Read more ›
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