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My Green Manifesto: Down the Charles River in Pursuit of a New Environmentalism Paperback – July 12, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A wonderfully readable book. Gessner’s attempts to define the role of the new environmental warrior, both in terms of idealism and political practicality, are heartfelt and informed. [My Green Manifesto] is brave enough and intelligent enough to embrace technology as well as art, pure ideology as well as compromise, hope as well as despair, depression and paralysis as well as valor and joy." —Boston Globe

"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 nature—no, 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 mistake—he can write about a blue heron or an osprey with the best of them—but 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

About the Author

David Gessner is the author of eight books and countless essays about the wild world, including Return of the Osprey, which was hailed as a "classic of American Nature Writing" by the Boston Globe and was selected as one of their top ten nonfiction books of the year. Gessner is the recent winner of a Pushcart Prize and the John Burroughs Award for Best Natural History Essay. His essays have been included in The Best American Essays series and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008. His work has also appeared in many magazines and journals including New York Times Magazine, Boston Globe, Outside, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, and Orion. Founder of the journal Ecotone, he teaches at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions; Original edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571313249
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571313249
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Williams on July 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No one wearing a T-shirt with the popular "Think Global Act Local" slogan emblazoned on it will find anything "new" in David Gessner's "New Environmentalism." What makes this book important is not its ideology but its positive example of what acting locally means. He puts flesh on the abstract slogan and thereby gives it life.
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.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great idea of a book marred by a flawed execution. As a fellow exiled Bostonian with a long history with the Charles River, I was very excited to see this book. I love the book's thesis that one can find find value and natural beauty in environments far from the pristine grandeur of a Yosemite or even a Walden. There are some great stories here about the history of people's relationship with the river, about the changes in the river's surroundings in the last couple of decades, and about the bird life to be found in the river.

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.
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The book. Brought memories of the Charles River. Since I live in a city where we have a lot of wildlife I could relate to David's experiences in the "wilds of Boston suburbia".
It definitely was a new slant on environmentalism.
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Format: Paperback
And I enjoyed reading it. I am a realistic environmentalist. Some of my favorite books are THIS SIDE OF A WILDERNESS, Desert Solitaire, and anything by Loren Eisely. Mr. Gessner's book deserves mention in this same genre. While it's not the poetically soothing account found in THIS SIDE OF A WILDERNESS, or as gripping as Desert Solitaire, it makes up for this with witty realisms, insight, and adventure. I recommend this title to all my bookie friends looking for a new nature based read...
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