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My Green Manifesto: Down the Charles River in Pursuit of a New Environmentalism Paperback – July 12, 2011
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"Raw and honest . . . there's a lilt in his jig that many will find invigorating." Los Angeles Times
"Funny and inspiring . . . Gessner believes that committing to a lifelong environmental fight is an act of personal fulfillment. [My Green Manifesto] is an easy, pleasurable read, with an environmental message that . . . there is still transcendence to be found in the 'limited wild' of our own communities. So get out there, enjoy it, and fight for it before it's gone because, at least according to Gessner, this is the key to a better life." Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)
David Gessner is a major American writer in possession of the most hard-headed, pragmatic, passionate, and eloquent style of thinking and writing on what it means to be a human on Earth today.” Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury
Gessner has chopped down the strangling beanstalk of environmentalism, and has merrily, adroitly, hungrily planted something new in its place. His book comes just in time: After talking with environmental experts and reading the direst of scientific journal articles, I was starting to feel the mind-numbing grip of paralysis. But before you put a bullet through your head for the plight of Mother Earth, you should read this book. Gessner is not saying anybody is off the hook, but he offers a more effective way of relating to natureno, in fact, of being nature.” Craig Childs, author of The Animal Dialogues
David Gessner re-invents the environmental manifesto for people who hate the word environmental as much as they hate the word manifesto. Make no mistakehe can write about a blue heron or an osprey with the best of thembut if you're looking for mystical rhapsodies to Mother Earth, go elsewhere. Gessner is convinced that re-connecting ourselves with nature doesn't start with finger-wagging; it starts with fun.” Ginger Strand, author of Inventing Niagara
An engaging book with a serious message.” Kirkus Reviews
"Earthy and funny, frank and pragmatic. Gessner asserts that nature is necessary for our well-being, that 'the most important wilderness is rooted not in theory, renunciation, or gloom but, rather, in love and wonder, even anger. Take a 'good walk,' he advises, and be willing to fight and hustle for the place you love." Donna Seaman, Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
Despite his many "Nature Books," Gessner continues to protest, rightly, that he is a writer, not a nature writer, that his writing is his priority and environmentalism perhaps a means to that end. The oldest writing-teacher cliche of them all is "Show it; Don't tell it." That is exactly what Gessner does.
Ok, Gessner doesn't do it exactly. His friend Dan Driscoll does. But Gessner shows us how Driscoll, working from within the state bureaucracy slowly and painfully over many years was able to save parts of the Charles, the river that ends up as the famous "muddy water" of Boston. For Gessner, who grew up in Massachusetts and went to Harvard, this is as local as it gets, and Driscoll is deservedly his hero.
Driscoll's story is told interspersed with the tale of a paddle down the Charles from its headwaters to the Basin, camping along the shore, ending up on the Esplanade on the 4th of July. Not since Ray Mungo in the '60s paddled up Thoreau's Concord and Merrimack Rivers have we been invited to view so closely what an urban river looks like, from its industrial garbage-strewn worst to its hidden idyllic best.
The best part of Gessner's style may be his honest uncertainty. In a field in which so many people are so certain they have the answers, Gessner humbly confesses his confusion. Like many of us, he knows what he would like to see happen but hasn't much faith in the mystic and dogmatic answers that so many others insist upon.Read more ›
On the other hand, the promise of the book is somewhat buried by its problems. For each paragraph describing the river, Gessner could have written ten pages instead. I would like to know more about how the Charles got so polluted and how it got cleaned up. Gessner spent hours hanging out with Dan Driscoll, the state environmental worker who apparently instigated a major change in the way the river is treated, yet the book only gives glimpses of the battles Driscoll fought. The river itself, and how it fits into the natural and man-made environment of Boston and vicinity, could have gotten much more attention in the book. Instead, the river appears to be a backdrop for Gessner's musings on the environmental movement. These musings were not very clear or very original; he criticises environmentalists for being dull scolds but then becomes somewhat of a scold himself as he exhorts the masses to get out doors and experience nature more. He doesn't marshall logical arguments or factual evidence when he complains about Shellenberger and Nordhous or other, unnamed environmentalists; he just states his opinions.
While reading the book I visited Boston and discovered a part of the river I had never seen.Read more ›
It definitely was a new slant on environmentalism.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a quick read and a different take than most books on the environment. It got me thinking differently about how we approach our problems with the environment. Read morePublished on March 12, 2014 by DDinNTK
This heart of this book is the story of Dan Driscoll and his heroic actions to bring nature back to the Charles River. Read morePublished on October 11, 2011 by James Swanson