From the Publisher
In Preserving the Nation, Thomas Wellock explores the international, rural, and industrial roots of modern environmentalism that emerged in the last half of the nineteenth century--three related movements in response to a rapidly expanding economy and population that depleted the nation's resources, damaged land in rural areas, and blighted cities. The first group favored the conservation and efficient management of natural resources for production. The second, the preservationists, sought to protect scenic and wilderness areas and to sustain the spirit of the nation's pioneer heritage and virility. The third group, the urban environmentalists, sought reform to control industrial pollution and retard urban decay. Politically powerful and widely admired, resource management overshadowed the other two movements until the 1950s. After World War II, the two less-powerful strands of the movement, preservationism and urban environmentalism, wove into one, as the accelerating effects of affluence, scientific discovery, Cold War concerns, and suburbanization led the public to value outdoor amenities and a healthy environment. This renamed "environmental" movement focused less on efficient use of resources and more on creating healthy ecosystems and healthy people free of risks from pollution and hazardous wastes. By 1970, environmentalism enjoyed widespread popular support and bipartisan appeal.
What all three movements always shared was a common recognition of the limits of America's natural resources and environment, a belief in preserving them for generations to come, and a faith in at least some government environmental action rather than relying purely on private solutions. Not only does the history of these movements bring to light much about the expanding role of government in environmental regulation and the growth of the modern American state, but a look at environmental campaigns over the course of the twentieth century reveals a great deal about the racial, gender, and class divisions at work in the ongoing efforts to preserve the environment.
Accessible, insightful, and highly affordable, Preserving the Nation is a thought-provoking history of environmental politics.
"Preserving the Nation is by far the best survey we have of the history of environmental activism. Wellock has a knack for getting to the heart of issues. This should be a great book for students. And for scholars -- even though I'm familiar with almost all of the works he draws on, Wellock taught me a lot!"
Adam Rome, Penn State University
About the Author
Thomas R. Wellock is Associate Professor of History at Central Washington University. He is the author of Critical Masses: Opposition to Nuclear Power in California, 1958-78 and has published articles on the history of nuclear power in the West in The Journal of American History, The Journal of the West, and California History. In 2000, he was the recipient of Central Washington University’s Excellence in Teaching Award. His research interests are in the history of environmental politics, the American West, and the recent United States.