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My First Summer in the Sierra: Illustrated Edition Hardcover – March 10, 2011

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My First Summer in the Sierra: Illustrated Edition + Walden: 150th Anniversary Illustrated Edition of the American Classic
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 100 Ill An edition (March 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618988513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618988518
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

From the photographer who brought Thoreau's Walden and Cape Cod to life comes a new work combining classic literature with brand-new photography. This time, Scot Miller takes on the seminal work of John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra. The book details Muir's first extended trip to the Sierra Nevada in what is now Yosemite National Park, a landscape that entranced him immediately and had a profound effect on his life. The towering waterfalls, natural rock formations, and abundant plant and animal life helped Muir develop his views of the natural world, views that would eventually lead him to push for the creation of the national parks.

Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the book's original publication by Houghton Mifflin Company, My First Summer in the Sierra is illustrated with Miller's stunning photographs, showcasing the dramatic landscape of the High Sierra plus John Muir's illustrations from the original edition and several previously unpublished illustrations from his 1911 manuscript. The publication of My First Summer in the Sierra inspired many to journey there, and this newly illustrated anniversary edition will surely inspire many more.

This book is being published in collaboration with Yosemite Conservancy and, for each copy sold, Scot Miller is making a donation to Yosemite Conservancy.

A Look Inside My First Summer in the Sierra
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

Sunset ceremony Summer shower Tuolumne Meadows
Cathedral Peak after the storm Nevada Fall and Liberty Cap

About the Author

In addition to My First Summer in the Sierra, Muir wrote books on his travels to Alaska, Yosemite, and the Gulf of Mexico. He was instrumental in the creation and passage of the National Parks Act and was founder of the Sierra Club, which continues to be an important conservationist organization.


More About the Author

Scot Miller's interest in photography began in the early 1970's. Through his photography, he attempts to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the uniqueness of places such as Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, Walden, the Maine Woods, the Texas Hill Country and the Great Trinity Forest. Eighty-nine of his photographs illustrate "Walden: 150th Anniversary Illustrated Edition of the American Classic," published by Houghton Mifflin in 2004 and sixty-three of his photographs illustrate "Cape Cod: Illustrated Edition of the American Classic," published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2008. Publishing in April 2011, John Muir's "My First Summer in the Sierra: 100th Anniversary Illustrated Edition" with Foreword by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns and published in collaboration with Yosemite Conservancy features seventy-two of Scot's photographs plus twenty-one illustrations from the 1911 edition by John Muir.

In 2005, Scot collaborated with the Harvard Museum of Natural History to develop "Thoreau's Walden: A Journey in Photographs by Scot Miller," a traveling exhibition managed by the Cincinnati Museum Center that features twenty-nine of Scot's fine art photographs from the Walden book, plus interpretive materials. The exhibition is currently on a multi-year museum tour across the country.

Scot is also involved in a multi-year project photographing Yosemite's expansive backcountry wilderness areas with four other photographers, in cooperation with The Yosemite Fund, resulting in the publication of "First Light: Five Photographers Explore Yosemite's Wilderness", a book published in Summer 2009. He is currently photographing extensively in the Maine Woods, the Ozarks, Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada, and the Texas Hill Country, where he is Artist-in-Park for Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, located in Johnson City and Stonewall, Texas.

Scot's photography has been featured in publications and books including America's Famous and Historic Trees, America West Magazine, Cape Cod Life, D Magazine, National Wildlife, Steinway & Sons Magazine, Yosemite Magazine, Yosemite Fund Annual Reports, the National Park Service's Yosemite Valley Plan and other Yosemite-related projects, and the National Park Service's Special Resource Study of Walden Pond and Woods. Scot was also featured on "CBS Sunday Morning" with Charles Osgood. In addition, a selection of his large-format photographs of Italy are now being displayed in many Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurants throughout the country.

For the last fifteen years, Scot has found another way to further catalogue the beautiful scenery he photographs--he carries a digital video (now high-definition) camera system into the field, which can be a challenge when backpacking into the Yosemite backcountry or standing on frozen Walden Pond. His footage has been used extensively in many Yosemite Fund videos, in a recent video for the Walden Woods Project, narrated by Walter Cronkite, in a September 2004 story on "CBS Sunday Morning" with Charles Osgood, and in many news reports.

Scot lives in Dallas, Texas.

Customer Reviews

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I reread the book from time to time.
Scott M. Kruse
Muir writes about nature on such an elevated, inspired and inspiring level, it transports the reader if the reader allows herself to sink into the text.
Elaine Douglass
Muir worked for Mr. Delaney as a sheepherder.
Mary E. Sibley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By "bcj222" on August 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
In the summer of 1869, John Muir was invited to help herd sheep in summer pasture near Yosemite, California. This book is Muir's diary of his first summer in the Sierra Nevada. In the spirit of an ascetic mystic, Muir recorded his feelings of wonder as he discovered the awesome beauty of the Sierra Nevada. I held my breath and chuckled as Muir described his encounters with the denizens of the woods. "Having heard that a black bear will run from his bad brother man and deciding I would like to see his gait in running, I rushed and shouted at a large cinnamon colored fellow. To my dismay, he did not run. On the contrary, he stood his ground, ready to fight. Then, I suddenly began to fear upon me would fall the work of running." For the reader or nature lover who would like to become more familiar with the father of the conservation movement, this is the book to read.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By K.S.Ziegler on July 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
John Muir was born in 1838 and at a young age emigrated from Scotland with his family to a Wisconsin farm. He escaped the hard labor of the farm and his father's backward Biblical obsessions by displaying great powers of visualization. From principles learned from books, he whittled and fashioned barometers, thermometers, clocks and other marvels from the barest of materials. But he repudiated his inventive genius, which could have made him rich, after an industrial accident left him temporarily blinded; and he took off for the wilderness to discover plants and the natural world.

This book is a journal account of Muir's finding a place for himself in Yosemite after some dangerous wandering through the hazards of reconstruction in the South after the Civil War. It's a book of discovery. Although flocks of sheep like Muir's employer's were allowed to overrun backcountry meadows, and gold miners had ripped apart the lower river beds, the Sierras then were still a place that had many aspects that had not yet been explored or understood. The backcountry was much more vulnerable to exploitation (though in many ways less endangered) than today, but there was freer and unfettered access for one who sought out it's mysteries and wanted to learn. This book shows Muir's powers of visualization ("the eye within the eye") in his beginning to formulate the role that glaciers play in the formation of the landscape. No one at that time had come to a solid understanding of what had made Yosemite Valley. And, although it might seem quite clear in retrospect, it took a strong mind of one who up until that time had been adrift in the world, a wanderer who studied plants, to visualize his theories and make them known to the world.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the third of Muir's books that I have read, the first in several years. Gretel Ehrlich writes in her introduction: "[Muir] wrote: 'I should like to live here always. It is so calm and withdrawn while open to the universe in full communion with everything good.' And in so speaking of the place he loved best, described himself."
In the inimitable way of John Muir, the book is essentially a journal, in this case of his thoughts and travels in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the summer of 1869. On one day (July 15) he tells of his great desire to look directly down the thousands of vertical feet of Yosemite Falls leading him into a death-defying pilgrimage onto shear rock: "If I was to get down to the brink at all that rough edge, which might offer slight finger-holds, was the only way. But the slope . . . looked dangerously smooth and steep, and the swift roaring flood beneath, overhead, and beside me was very nerve-trying. I therefore concluded not to venture farther, but did nevertheless." I'll guess that Muir is the only person to have ever positioned himself on the lip of this great waterfall. Having earlier read of his mountaineering and storm-reveling experiences, even this is not quite surprising. On another day he writes of encountering a brown bear, a housefly, and a grasshopper, and treats them all as being equally fascinating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. Sibley VINE VOICE on April 16, 2007
Format: School & Library Binding
Gretel Ehrlich provides the introduction. It is noted that John Muir walked first, wrote later. In 1868 he was thirty years old and had walked a thousand miles. He was a seeker in self-exile such as D.H. Lawrence, Rockwell Kent, and Basho. Muir chronicles a rite of passage. The summer described began in June, 1869. Forty-one years later the account was pieced together.

Muir worked for Mr. Delaney as a sheepherder. He had a St. Bernard dog as a companion. Mr. Delaney encouraged Muir to sketch and pursue his naturalist studies. He was to learn that sheep cannot be governed when hungry. Bushes are stripped. The sheep resemble locusts in their destructive potential.

Two kinds of squirrels are evident, the Douglas and the California Gray. The wood rat is more like a squirrel than a rat. He bulds large striking looking houses. Sheep camp bread is baked in Dutch ovens. Descriptions of silver firs, Sierra juniper, yellow and sugar pines, Douglas spruce, sequoia, hemlock, and dwarf pines appear in the account of the summer. Nature is extravagant. The group follows the Yosemite trail.

Mules flee from bears, and dogs want to. Bears are very shy. Indian patience is required to see them. Making sheep cross a stream is a challenge. Once one goes in, the others push in pell-mell. Lake Tenaya was named for one of the chiefs of the Yosemite tribe. Sierra mosquitoes are nearly an inch long. Sierra chipmunks are arboreal and squirrel-like. Grouse and woodpeckers are abundant in the vicinity of Mount Hoffman.

On August third Muir found Professor Butler, his teacher at the University of Wisconsin, because, sensing his presence, John Muir made inquiries at the only hotel in the area and was directed to go to the Vernal Falls.
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