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The Environmental Justice: William O. Douglas and American Conservation Paperback – April 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oregon State University Press (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870715674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870715679
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,617,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

From the late 1940s to the mid-1970s, American conservation politics underwent a transformation—and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980) was at the heart of this shift toward modern environmentalism. The Environmental Justice explores how Douglas, inspired by his youthful experiences hiking in the Pacific Northwest, eventually used his influence to contribute to American conservation thought, politics, and law.

About the Author

Adam M. Sowards is a professor of history at the University of Idaho. He holds a Ph.D. In history from Arizona State University and is the author of United States West Coast: An Environmental History.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BRC on December 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a readable and effective study of the role William Douglas played in mid-century environmental conservation, in large part while he was on the bench of the Supreme Court. More than that, though, this book provides a well-written view of changing passions for nature's open spaces from before WWII through the birth of the modern environmental movement by the 1970s. Douglas is not an entirely sympathetic character--he comes across as gruff, difficult to get along with, probably a bit irascible--but Sowards does a nice job of identifying these character traits. He then uses most of the book to explain how the Justice took the imprint of his childhood backyard in Washington State and expressed it through a consistent lifelong passion for trails and parks and mountains across America. (As someone from the mid-Atlantic who has walked parts of the C&O Canal trail many times, I was most interested to learn about the role Douglas played in protecting that trail from development.) Readers will learn about how Justice Douglas worked to conserve those spaces for the future through his personal advocacy and through his support on the bench for the rise of new environmental legislation into the 1970s. I'd say this book does what most good histories do, which is to bring a broader awareness of past figures and decisions to light. And in a clear and effective way.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
JJ is graduating and interested in environmental justice, a greenie at heart he wants to leave a cleaner, better planet for posterity. My husband read this book long ago and found Justice Douglas to have a fellow nature contemplator. Although he might not agree with much of Douglas' approach to the bench and life, this love of nature struck him as not only deeply authentic but valuable and often missing in many people's lives. We gifted JJ with this read to strengthen his own love of nature and the gifts it gives when we set aside time to enter it's sanctuary. Blessing Your Children

by Dr. John Trent

As a counselor, I often see the benefits and the heartbreaking results of parental choices. Sometimes it's as if I hear the cry that Esau made when he found out his brother, Jacob, had taken his father's blessing: "Esau said to his father, 'Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!' Then Esau wept aloud" (Genesis 27:38).

Esau's desperate plea for his father's approval can be heard in families today. Kids thirst for parental acceptance — they long for their mother and father to reinforce their worth.

Meeting your children's need for affirmation doesn't have to be difficult. One way is to do what I call "the blessing." This blessing has five distinct elements to build up your sons and daughters and help them understand their worth in your family and before God.
Read more ›
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The contributions of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to environmental benefaction in America must be included among a relatively small group of giants. His writings and actions link the generations from John Muir and John Burroughs through Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, to Annie Dillard and David Brower.

Adam M. Sowards’ book, “The Environmental Justice” drills deeper into this aspect of William O. Douglas’s life than other biographies written about him. William O. Douglas, raised in Yakima, Washington, in the early 1900’s, was a well-known jurist who served on the United States Supreme Court for 36 years. His written legacy includes a robust literature on the Constitution, civil liberties, privacy, and the environment. In addition to his 1200 judicial opinions he wrote 32 books, and 200 articles in magazines, law reviews, and outdoor journals. He became a proficient naturalist, conservationist, and world citizen. He pursued an activism that challenged officials in the other branches of government to speak truth to power.

Sowards explores Douglas’s environmental legacy with skill, depth, and lucidity. Thoroughly researched, he chronicles Douglas’s involvement in the creation of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, preservation of areas in Olympic National Park and what is now the William O. Douglas Wilderness in Washington State; as well as the Big Thicket in Texas. Sowards also recounts important environmental decisions by Douglas as a member of the Supreme Court—importantly Sierra Club v. Morton (1972); and in the end describes Douglas as one of the country’s leading “public intellectuals” during the middle of the last century.

Adam Sowards’ little volume is a very fine addition to the literature about William O. Douglas, the history of the environmental movement more generally, and the importance of wilderness preservation. I recommend it most highly.
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