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Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West Paperback – April 14, 2000
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"A beautiful, absorbing, tragic book. . . . Rebecca Solnit tells this story with the passion and clarity it deserves." -- Larry McMurtry
"Savage Dreams is about many things: despoliation and restoration, finding a voice between contemporary noise and silence, making friends and enemies. Most of all, though, it may be about a journey into history: about how understanding history and making it are not really very different." -- Greil Marcus, author of Lipstick Traces
"Savage Dreams summons us to the campfires of resistance." -- Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz
"Solnit's intelligent meditations may awaken us from our self- congratulatory coma. [Her] mind is fertile, wide-ranging and capable of integrating the bewildering deluge of fact, political delusion, flights of genius, inconceivable danger and cunning deceit that [have] characterized the nuclear age." -- Los Angeles Times
From the Inside Flap
"Savage Dreams summons us to the campfires of resistance."Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz
"Savage Dreams is about many things: despoliation and restoration, finding a voice between contemporary noise and silence, making friends and enemies. Most of all, though, it may be about a journey into history: about how understanding history and making it are not really very different."Greil Marcus, author of Lipstick Traces
"A wonderful and important book, weaving past and present, politics and spirituality, land and history, pleasure and outrage, esthetics and activism, into a map where we as Americans find ourselves today. Intellectually challenging but beautifully written and eminently readable, Savage Dreams has both heart and teeth." Lucy Lippard, author of Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory
Top customer reviews
A second reading, which I just did, underlines the beautiful and clear descriptive prose.
It's a wonderful book. Judging from the reviews, it completely bewilders and scares those who are unfamiliar with the Christian faith and who think all this stuff is pagan. (The Christian church is the primary holder of the pagan traditions. But don't get me started...)
We follow Rebecca on her journey to the Nevada Test Site, to the homes of Western Shoshones, to Yosemite National Park but we don't get inside her experience which keeps her away from us. I don't feel invested in what she is doing and I find the poetic, descriptive prose also distancing me from a tragic story that would benefit from more authorial heat.
The best part of the book was her discussion of how Yosemite in specific but the glorious landscapes of the West in general were viewed by white explorers. They say these places as virgin, untouched, static landscapes. Rebecca argues that this framing allowed the whites to brush aside the native whose homes were in Yosemite Valley and elsewhere. The myth presented to the larger public was the preservation of these empty landscapes as untouched paradise for future generations. This myth doesn't account for the native people who were often violently banished from their homelands but it allowed whites to hold onto their desires to have an untouched wilderness at their beck and call.
I picked this book up off a bargain table, and months later happened to take it with me when I was visiting Yosemite without knowing 1/2 the book was about Yosemite. That was kind of a thrill.
Solnit's historical and writing skills, her ability to build a world stage of activity and its interconnectedness with her narrative are extraordinary.
As a landscape artist and photographer, I find this book to be a great resource. Understanding the history of Yosemite is frankly consciousness shifting.
As the other reviewer says, nuclear weapons are our oyster.
Indians, big bangs, Central Park, Fremont and the Heart of Darkness. How about that.