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The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960 Hardcover – January 18, 2011
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*Starred Review* When legendary naturalist John Muir began exploring Glacier Bay in 1879, he was unprepared for �the sheer poetic depth of the Alaskan wilderness.� Twenty years later, Muir joined the Harriman Expedition, which found Alaska to be �a unique, untrammeled, sui generis wilderness in need of preservation.� Indeed, as soon as the U.S. acquired this magnificent and bountiful land, the war began between those who would recklessly exploit Alaska�s natural wealth for profit and those who believed that this was a sacred place to be cherished and protected. Brinkley�s scrupulous, dramatic chronicle of the complex struggle to protect Alaska�s glorious wilderness and wildlife in the years before it became a state is the second book in what he describes as his lifework, a multivolume history of conservation in America that began with his unique portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Warrior (2009). Here Roosevelt is one of many colorful visionaries Brinkley vividly portrays, from explorers and scientists (Charles Sheldon, William T. Hornaday) to artists and writers (Rockwell Kent, Walt Disney, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder) to heroes Olaus and Mardy Murie, who campaigned tirelessly for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Essential to understanding today�s environmental challenges, Brinkley�s Alaskan history and pantheon of valiant conservationists is boldly original, enlightening, enthralling, and profoundly moving. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Brinkley is an award-winning, highly visible (frequent TV appearances) public historian, and a robust, multifront publicity campaign is planned for this major work. --Donna Seaman
Forceful storytelling...engrossing...The Quiet World brims over with information and insight, passion, and insistence...In fact, it's a bit like Alaska itself: large, formidable, raw, and ultimately unforgettable. --Washington Post
“A poignant cautionary tale for policymakers considering quick get-rich fixes to long-term problems with ecological implications. . . . In Brinkley’s hands, the still-raging battle to save Alaska’s wild character is riveting.” (The Christian Science Monitor)
“Engrossing. . . . The Quiet World brims over with information and insight, passion and insistence. . . . A bit like Alaska itself: large, formidable, raw and ultimately unforgettable.” (The Washington Post)
“Brinkley carves well-known figures with the tools of a skilled biographer. . . . This volume is required reading for anyone even mildly interested in the antecedents to U.S. environmental policy in the 21st century.” (The Los Angeles Times)
“An important book.” (The Houston Chronicle)
“A richly detailed, passionate and partisan account. . . . In lush prose, [Brinkley] captures Alaska’s pristine beauty.” (The Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“A very readable history of the preservationist movement across the nation.” (The Seattle Times)
Top customer reviews
So for my brother's birthday this year I bought him a copy of the book and he's loving it too, making him homesick for Alaska and Homer once again. My copy of the book is out making the rounds among my birding friends in hopes of inspiring the missed trip for the future!
However, there was far too much emphasis on the "famous white guys" that Brinkley seems so enamored with in many of his books. For me, the most important people in this book are the "little people" who were the Alaska "tour guides" and "data gatherers" for the rich and famous. The Alaska roles of people like Samuel Hall Young, John Brady, John Muir, Charles Sheldon, Bob Marshall, the three Muries, the Crislers, Ginny Wood and Celia Hunter are the most interesting parts of the book. The long, drawn-out chapters discussing people like Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, John Hay, William Hornaday, Jack London, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Wiley Post and Will Rogers, Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Dwight Eisenhower, Fred Seaton, Stewart Udall, Walt Disney, the Kennedys, even Aldo Leopold, William O. Douglas, and Rachel Carson, many of whom never even visited Alaska, were overkill. And much more could have been written on actual Alaskans like Bob Marshall's Wiseman townspeople, Les Viereck, John Thompson, Ted Stevens, and Ernest Greuning.
Fewer main characters would actually have made the book more interesting, as would editing out the constant repetition, some on consecutive pages, that made the book even longer than it needed to be. That seems to indicate a very rushed editing job by editors who knew very little about Alaska. A good read, but might have reached a wider audience if it had been shorter.
I had no idea the environmental struggles, along with Alaska's natural resources and treasures, that are in tension now were in tension so long ago and seemingly always in tension. The same persons who want to drill in ANWAR now mirror many of the same minded persons who wanted Alaska for materials and nothing else back then, just as much as there persons now and in the past who would preserve Alaska for its natural beauty and would never think to extract anything that might harm that.
Especially in an age where Alaska's most famous spokesperson doesn't actually hunt or hike save reality show opportunities- Brinkley does a great job brining all of us up to speed on how Alaska's past has shaped its present.
This book is essential reading to anyone who wants to understand how Alaska came to be and how environmental concerns have always existed in America and how the tensions of nature v. extracting nature for resources shape our present history.