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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent survey of the environmental history of California, December 1, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Green Versus Gold: Sources In California's Environmental History (Paperback)
Versus Gold presents a broad, sweeping record of the environmental history of the California region over the past 250 years. Its vast scope and rich material make it an excellent book for anyone interested in the evolution of the human-environment interaction in California, from the pre-European communities, who flourished successfully in the region for millennia, to today's nature-isolated society. The painstakingly gathered primary source material and bibliography and the relevance of the essays make it an invaluable resource for any formal study in the environmental history of California or the U.S. (People familiar with the editor's related book, _Major Problems in American Environmental History_ (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1993), may be interested to know that only seven of the 105 entries in this book are taken from that one.) The editor uses the cumulative effect of a selection of primary texts and related essays to describe and analyze the history of the human-environment relationship in California. The primary sources are extremely diverse and include origin stories and compelling firsthand accounts of Native American groups and excerpts of various documents such as old diaries, legal notices, historic academic writings, novels, contemporary journal articles, maps, antique photographs, etc. The essays represent a wide range of writings by historians, environmentalists, ethnographers, ecologists, activists, philosophers, etc.--from Mark Twain, Mary Austin and John Steinbeck to Judi Bari and Gary Snyder. The essays generally do not directly refer to the primary sources, but rather discuss the general topics of the chapters and provide context and analysis on the subject of the sources. A few of the topics covered are "Native Californian Cultivators", "Dredging for Gold", "Sea Otters Encounter Russians", "Aboriginal Fishers", "Hydraulic Society Triumphant", "Chaos and California", "The Battle for Bodega Bay", and Deep Ecology. One negative effect of all of this variety of material is that it sometimes diffuses the book's focus. Indeed, a cover-to-cover reading can be challenging because of the kaleidoscopic effect of its topics. On the other hand, this does not detract from its usefulness as an occasional reader, a complement to other books in a course, or as a resource for additional research in the field, as its subtitle suggests. Also, considering its variety, the coherence afforded by its organization is remarkable. The documents and essays together cover topics spanning the days of prehistory in the California region to the present day. Descriptions of pre-European inhabitants of the region are followed by discussion of European settlement and use of the area and interaction with the land, with attention paid to the relationship between immigration and the natural wealth of the region--particularly gold, the concept of which drew a frenzied influx 150 years ago. The book follows the early transformation of the idea of nature into commodity and the exploitation and large-scale transformation of ecosystems by the European settlers; some contemporary philosophical thought on that exploitation and its dramatic results is also included. Throughout, the work illustrates human perceptions of and reactions to environmental destruction, such as that wrought by hydraulic mining, the flooding of large valleys and the transformation of grasslands by over-grazing, including the preservation efforts of the twentieth century by such people as John Muir, Huey Johnson, etc.; various preservation rationale are discussed. Particularly interesting is the surprising amount of concern by Europeans in previous era for the human impact on the environment, such as the despair expressed by a mid-nineteenth-century author about the already-extreme non-local ownership of California land; this lends new perspective to our current environmental concerns. The theme of the human response to environmental destruction intensifies in later chapters (reflecting actual chronology), culminating in chapters on the evolution of environmental science, environmental movements and the editor's own vision for a rejoined green (nature) and gold (economy) in California. The sources presented in _Green Versus Gold_ are extensive and impressively varied (this is typical of Merchant's work, such as the foundational _The Death of Nature_); it would be hard to imagine a more diverse and comprehensive collection of material about the environmental history of California in a single volume. The breadth of the material gives the reader unique insight into the state of environment and the human-environment relationship across a variety of landscapes and social structures, from the intense management of ecosystems by Indian groups in pre-European times to the high degree of alienation from the land in modern Los Angeles. Through these selections, the central theme of the book--the developing tension between the green of nature and the gold representing the human use of nature in California--is brought to light. The discussion of human efforts for nature and the editor's ideas about a partnership ethic in the closing chapters provide relief from the overwhelming evidence of the human domination and destruction of nature.Kenneth WorthyNovember, 1998
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection on the history of the California environment, November 13, 1998
By A Customer
Carolyn Merchant, ed. _Green Versus Gold: Sources in California's Environmental History_. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1998. Green Versus Gold presents a broad, sweeping record of the environmental history of the California region over the past 250 years. Its vast scope and rich material make it an excellent book for anyone interested in the evolution of the human-environment interaction in California, from the pre-European communities, who flourished successfully in the region for millennia, to today's nature-isolated society. The painstakingly gathered primary source material and bibliography and the relevance of the essays make it an invaluable resource for any formal study in the environmental history of California or the U.S. The editor uses the cumulative effect of a selection of primary texts and related essays to describe and analyze the history of the human-environment relationship in California. The primary sources are extremely diverse and include origin stories and compelling firsthand accounts of Native American groups and excerpts of various documents such as old diaries, legal notices, historic academic writings, novels, contemporary journal articles, maps, antique photographs, etc. The essays represent a wide range of writings by historians, environmentalists, ethnographers, ecologists, activists, philosophers, etc.--from Mark Twain, Mary Austin and John Steinbeck to Judi Bari and Gary Snyder. The essays generally do not directly refer to the primary sources, but rather discuss the general topics of the chapters and provide context and analysis on the subject of the sources. A few of the topics covered are "Native Californian Cultivators", "Dredging for Gold", "Sea Otters Encounter Russians", "Aboriginal Fishers", "Hydraulic Society Triumphant", "Chaos and California", "The Battle for Bodega Bay" Deep Ecology. The documents and essays together cover topics and issues spanning the days of prehistory in the California region to the present day. Descriptions of pre-European inhabitants of the region are followed by discussion of European settlement and use of the area and interaction with the land, with attention paid to the relationship between immigration and the natural wealth of the region--particularly gold, the idea of which drew a frenzied influx 150 years ago. The book follows the early transformation of the idea of nature into commodity and the exploitation and large-scale transformation of ecosystems by the European settlers; some contemporary philosophical thought on that exploitation and its dramatic results is also included. Throughout, the book illustrates human perceptions of and reactions to environmental destruction, such as that wrought by hydraulic mining, the flooding of large valleys and the transformation of grasslands by over-grazing, including the preservation efforts of the twentieth century by such people as John Muir, Huey Johnson, etc.; various preservation rationale are discussed. Particularly interesting is the surprising amount of concern by Europeans in previous era for the human impact on the environment, such as the despair expressed by a mid-nineteenth-century author about the already-extreme non-local ownership of California land; this lends new perspective to our current environmental concerns. The theme of the human response to environmental destruction intensifies in later chapters (reflecting actual chronology), culminating in chapters on the evolution of environmental science, environmental movements and the editor's own vision for a rejoined green (nature) and gold (economy) in California. The sources presented in _Green Versus Gold_ are extensive and impressively varied (this is typical of Merchant's work, such as the foundational _The Death of Nature_); it would be hard to imagine a more diverse and comprehensive collection of material about the environmental history of California in a single volume. The breadth of the material gives the reader unique insight into the state of environment and the human-environment relationship across a variety of landscapes and social structures, from the intense management of ecosystems by Indian groups in pre-European times to the high degree of alienation from the land in modern Los Angeles. Through these selections, the developing tension between the green of nature and the gold representing the human use of nature is brought to light. The discussion of human efforts for nature and the editor's ideas about a partnership ethic in the closing chapters provide relief from the overwhelming evidence of the human domination and destruction of nature.Kenneth WorthyOctober, 1998
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some among them are killers park referrence for Yosemite, January 10, 2007
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This review is from: Green Versus Gold: Sources In California's Environmental History (Paperback)
Interesting definition of the park Some among them are killers park. I am a descendent of the original Indians of Yosemite and there is a problem with that meaning. The defintion "Some of them are killers" for Yosemite was fabricated in 1978 and is not the original meaning of Yosemite. The real meaning was "The Killers" or "The Grizzlies" because the Miwoks were afraid of the Ahwahnees. It was Chief Bautista and Russio, who were helping the Mariposa Battalion, who coined that term "Yosemite" for the Indians in Yosemite Valley which they were afraid to enter. It is because the Miwoks were once enemies of Chief Tenaya and the Ahwahnees. 30 years Yosemite National Park Service hired a person named Craig Bates who was married to a Miwok woman and had a 1/2 Miwok son who created that new defintion. So it is increble that ONE person changed the meaning and defintion of one of the most important and well known parks in the whold world...and no one noticed. The Miwoks were actually the scouts and guides for James Savage and the Mariposa Battalion, but you would not know it because the information was controlled by the "Indian expert" at Yosemite, which causes wrong information to be written...like the actual defintion of Yosemite.
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Green Versus Gold: Sources In California's Environmental History
Green Versus Gold: Sources In California's Environmental History by Carolyn Merchant (Paperback - June 1, 1998)
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