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A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf Paperback – August 26, 1998


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A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf + My First Summer in the Sierra (Dover Books on Americana) + The Mountains Of California
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (August 26, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395901472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395901472
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

It was 1867 when Muir (1838-1914) set off from Indiana across Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. At the end of Muir's illustrious life as conservationist and nature writer, William Frederic Bad<'e> put together the account from the original manuscript and revised typescript journal, and from other accounts of his adventures. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) (Booknews ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

In 1867, John Muir, age twenty-eight, was blinded in an industrial accident. He lay in bed for two weeks wondering if he would ever see again. When his sight miraculously returned, Muir resolved to devote all his time to the great passion of his life -- studying plants. He quit his job in an Indiana manufacturing plant, said good-bye to his family, and set out alone to walk to the Gulf of Mexico, sketching tropical plants along the way. He kept a journal of this thousand-mile walk and near the end of his life, now famous as a conservation warrior and literary celebrity, sent a typescript of it to his publisher. The result is a wonderful portrait of a young man in search of himself and a particularly vivid portrait of the post-war American South. Here is the young Muir talking with freed slaves and former Confederate soldiers, pondering the uses of electricity, exploring Mammoth Cave, sleeping in a Savannah cemetery, delirious with malarial fever in the home of strangers at Cedar Key, traveling to Havana, Cuba, and sailing to San Francisco Bay. Once in California, Muir promptly set out for Yosemite Valley -- 200 miles away. There Muir found his destiny -- and a mountain range to test his apparently inexhaustible capacity for walking. A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf bridges two Muir classics: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth and My First Summer in the Sierra.  --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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It is a short and simple book, but beautifully written and very humorous.
Albert
And like in Whitman's poetry, there's such energy and love sparkling in every word.
Oddsfish
How adventurous of Mr. Muir to take on this task of walking 1000 miles to the Gulf.
Eva Marie Everson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on October 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As the human population expands the natural world around us disappears. This is a fact we mostly ignore as we go about our daily life. One day, you wake up, and discover that within your own lifetime things have been permanently altered.
When John Muir made his "Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf" the U.S. was not as heavily populated as it is today, although much had changed from the time when European settlers first moved through the area he explored -- a path that stretched from Indianapolis Indiana to the Gulf just north of what is Tampa Florida today.
Muir moved South in the aftermath of the Civil War, so he encountered much unrest, unhappiness, and destruction along the way. He describes not only the flora and fauna he found but the condition of humans as they struggled to rebuild their lives.
He says, "My plan was to simply to push on in a general southward direction by the wildest leafiest, and least trodden way I could find, promising the greatest extent of virgin forest." To a great extent, he was able to do that, however, he could not escape some of the realities of the world around him. For example, in Georgia, he encountered the graves of the dead, whom he says lay under a "common single roof, supported on four posts as the cover of a well, as if rain and sunshine were not regarded as blessings." A bit further he says, "I wandered wearily from dune to dune sinking ankle deep in the sand, searching for a place to sleep beneath the tall flowers, free from the insects and snakes, and above all my fellow man."
Muir wonders at the teachings of those who call themselves God's emissaries, who fail to ask about God's intentions for nature.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dan Anderson on December 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is one of John Muir's best books (the other being _First Summer in the Sierra_). It's Muir's slightly-edited diary of his 1000-mile trip through the Southern U.S. to Florida, then Cuba. He traveled on foot observing nature and the people. The book holds your interest as it's written on the spot through the enthusistic eyes of a young man. It reminds me a little of Mark Twain's book _Roughin' It_, another story through the eye's of a young man latter to become famous (about working on antebellum riverboats).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Balbach on May 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
John Muir (naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club) left his home in Indiana at age 29 and "rambled" 1,000 miles through the woods of the southern US ending in Florida in 1867/68. It was just 2 years after the end of the Civil War and he ran into "wild negros" and long-haired horse-riding ex-Confederate bandits who would "kill a man for $5". He passed through uninhabited stretches of burnt out fields and deserted farms and was often seen as a northern interluder mistrusted by his southern guests. He lived mostly on stale pieces of bread, almost dieing of starvation while camping in a graveyard outside of Savannah, GA. He caught malaria and was bed ridden for 3 months, cared for by a kind family in Florida.

This is a snapshot of the south right after the war and the contrast between Muir's beautiful nature writing and the devastation of war are just as striking today as they must have been for the many people who encountered this unusual walker in the woods. Muir's writing is under-stated - the book was published posthumously and is more a diary than a finished book, which gives it a truthfulness and matter of factness. Fundamentally a Romanticist world-view - the power of nature and mans relation to it - Muir delights in finding, sampling and discussing plants, animals and geography. The genre is best compared with Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes and Thoreau's The Maine Woods.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ken Scheffler on March 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
Shortly after the American Civil War, John Muir, a 29-year-old budding naturalist, set out on an epic journey across the eastern United States. Starting in Louisville, Kentucky on September 2, 1867, he walked southward through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia, where he was delayed in Savannah. After crossing through Florida he finally reached the Gulf, but, unfortunately, his desire to continue on toward South America was hindered by an illness. Not fully recovered, he eventually made for Cuba, but went no further. Muir returned home only to set out for California a short while later. During his journey, he kept a journal in which he recorded his experiences and observations of the flora and fauna he came across. This journal, along with an article written in 1872 and a letter that he wrote while in California, constitute A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf, which was originally published in 1916, two years following Muir's death. Although there are a few instances when the author reveals himself to be a man of his times, his observations of a natural world which in many instances have long since been destroyed, are priceless.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
The title sums up quite a bit of the review for me. Not only was he a brilliant naturalist and visionary, but he was a better than decent science and adventure writer. This book, thousand mile walk to the gulf, is from Muir's younger days when he basically dropped out and went exploring. He walked from Wisconsin to the gulf, shortly after the war, and literally slept wherever he felt like- hedges, roadsides, and even the occasional house. His observations on reconstruction South are all the more insightful because they are unadulterated (is that a word?) by any agenda, and have the overpowering reality of truth.

While his time in the Sierras is what he is most famous for, and the mountains more rugged and inspiring, this pre-Jenkins "Walk Across America" is a tamer warm-up for reading his journals from Yosemite days. I highly recommend it as it gives the reader a bit of botany and a lot of background on Muir himself.
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