“High-spirited and admirably thorough.” (Washington Post)
“[Douglas] Brinkley is one of the nation’s most acclaimed and popular historians [and] Rightful Heritage is a big book about a pivotal time in American history. Brinkley writes admiringly of Roosevelt’s record, but his tone is backed up by a rich trove of research.” (USA Today (four stars))
Douglas Brinkley is America’s most distinguished student of our nation’s environmental history. Rightful Heritage is a landmark achievement. The fullest and most compelling study of FDR’s extraordinary role in perpetuating our natural treasures, it is a must read for anyone interested in the environment (Robert Dallek)
A marvelous book; one of Brinkley’s very best. FDR’s conservation achievements helped preserve the nation’s natural bounty and made it accessible to citizens as never before. By telling this grand story so well, Brinkley provokes readers to appreciate how the national government can perform wonders of its own. (Sean Wilentz)
Following his definitive look at Teddy Roosevelt’s passion for wilderness conservation, Brinkley now brings us a colorful, exciting narrative of how his cousin FDR carried on the cause. Brinkley gives us a wonderful, timely new perspective on FDR; his wife, Eleanor; and the dedicated environmentalists around them. (Walter Isaacson)
With this engaging book, Brinkley recovers one of FDR’s long-overlooked legacies: stewardship of America’s natural resources. This is a vivid history of an important subject. We are lucky that Brinkley has turned his attention to the Roosevelt we do not generally associate with the preservation of our environment. (Jon Meacham)
Stunningly researched and compellingly written, Rightful Heritage tells the story of FDR’s love affair with the American wilderness. In our search for compassionate and clear-headed leaders to guide us through the environmental crisis, Brinkley’s vividly detailed account of Roosevelt’s pioneering preservationism serves as a much-needed beacon and bible. (Megan Marshall)
Rightful Heritage is an irresistibly powerful and beautiful tale of America’s fraught love affair with its land, told by one of our most gifted historians. Brinkley follows FDR on an astonishing journey that, despite war, depression, and political infighting, somehow preserved what is most precious to us. (Candice Millard)
From the Back Cover
Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior celebrated Theodore Roosevelt’s spirit of outdoor exploration and bold vision to protect 234 million acres of wild America. Now, in Rightful Heritage, Brinkley turns his attention to another indefatigable environmental leader—Theodore’s distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt—chronicling his essential yet undersung legacy as the founder of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the premier protector of America’s public lands. FDR built state park systems and scenic roadways from scratch. Through his leadership, pristine landscapes such as the Great Smokies, the Everglades, Joshua Tree, the Olympics, Big Bend, and the Channel Islands were forever saved.
Brinkley traces FDR’s love for the natural world back to his youth spent exploring the Hudson River Valley and bird-watching. Forestry would soon become a consuming passion. When asked his occupation, FDR would invariably reply, “Tree grower.” As America’s president from 1933 to 1945, Roosevelt, a consummate political strategist, established hundreds of federal migratory bird refuges and spearheaded the modern movement to protect endangered species. He deftly positioned his conservation goals as economic policy to combat the severe unemployment of the Great Depression. During its seven-year existence, the CCC put nearly three million young men to work on conservation projects—including planting trees, national park preservation, pollution control, and grasslands restoration.Rightful Heritage is an epic chronicle that is both an irresistible portrait of FDR’s unrivaled passion and drive and an indispensable analysis that skillfully illuminates the tension between business and nature—exploiting our natural resources and conserving them. Within the narrative are brilliant capsule biographies of such environmental warriors as Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes, and Aldo Leopold. Rightful Heritage is essential reading for everyone interested in our treasured landscapes and historic sites as American birthrights.