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Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir Paperback – March 24, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 2 edition (March 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299186342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299186340
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

This Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of John Muir is available once again in an updated paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Back in Print from the University of Wisconsin Press

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eden Meyer on April 3, 2013
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This is a great book. The writing flows well, it is super interesting, and very informative about John Muir's life. It is the secondary source authority for the general subject of John Muir. Only criticism- the author seems to have a slight case of Muir worship, she puts all of his actions in a flattering light.
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John Muir was, as they used to say, an original. On his family-of-origin's Scottish-immigrant farm in Wisconsin, he constructed an "alarm bed" from disused farm implements that incorporated a powerful spring and a timing device that would eject the bed's occupant at a predetermined hour! No snooze button! Kayaking in Glacier Bay, Alaska, he "cured" a cold by spending a night with his dog on the glaciers, where he and dog nearly met their end by slipping into a crevasse; his theory was that he was tough enough to withstand the glacial night, whereas his afflicting germs would not survive the cold. In California, he worked with a shepherd engaged in altitudinal transhumance in the Sierra Nevada, and came to deprecate shepherds (because of the environmental depredations of their charges) as "muttoneers", while contrasting himself a "mountaineer". He climbed a tall pine tree during a furious rain and wind storm, to experience, he said, what the pine tree experiences. At Yosemite, atop Half Dome, he mystically intuited the unanticipated arrival of an old acquaintance in the valley below. A truly queer duck, since appropriated as a saintly icon of environmental preservation. This book tells his story well.
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I read this book twenty years ago and it remains an excellent biography. It is well written, thoroughly researched and fundamental to understanding this great American, his times and his contributions. It is a biography worthy of the man.
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4 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Scott Walker on May 31, 2008
Muir was a naturalist, a wanderer, making his home in the wilderness throughout much of the U.S. and parts of the world. He brought the need for conservation to a consensus, not only hear but around the world. When he was a boy his family moved from Scotland and settled in Wisconsin near the Fox River, a few miles from Portage. In his early years he built a number of ingenious inventions. His schooling came from the UW Madison, where finally his academics led to geology. His main interest was the study of glaciation. He also became a gifted writer. He was complex, and somewhat of a misanthrope.

Well written, Wolfe makes it interesting, especially Muir's travel exploits. She uses quotes from him and information taken from his journals. Muir was an amazing man, a rugged individualist, a natural man of the wilderness, with a passion to save the great forests from destruction. He awakened the masses with his conservation methods. He also helped initiate the National Parks, and went beyond to be charitable. He played a strong role in starting the Sierra Club, but it was nothing like the political and radical organization it is today. This is the authors' conception of Muir in the Preface: "who with all his planes and contrasts was a strongly individualized, consistent human being.......far from being a effeminate plaster saint, all sweetness and light.......he was in truth red-blooded and intensely masculine; a mystic, yet a realist with his feet on the ground; frugal in supplying his own needs, but lavishly generous to others.......".

Muir was raised Christian by an overly strict father, only later to rebel. We discover Muir mixed spiritualism and naturalism. He developed a tension----a dilemma----where his philosophy of the world is actually irrational.
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