From Publishers Weekly
These provocative essays by National Book Critics Circle award–winner Solnit (Wanderlust
, etc.), mostly published in magazines like the London Review of Books
and in books by other authors over the past seven years, attempts to understand politics through place. Her meditations often begin with landscape, but for her, "to be in the woods is not to be out of society or politics." She goes far beyond pristine nature, as she considers the mythology of the American West, ponders Silicon Valley—which she calls "a non-place"—and muses about antiglobalization protest sites in California and Miami. The impediments people use to keep strangers out of their gardens distress her, as do barriers that would seal the U.S. off from the rest of the world. She celebrates vibrant public spaces, laments malls and rails against the displacement of Asher Durand's painting Kindred Spirits
from New York City to Arkansas, by a Wal-Mart heiress whose fortune is built on a philosophy antithetical to that of the painting. Activists and idealists Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs and Betty Friedan, and the visionary architect Teddy Cruz give her hope. Always insightful, these essays offer many shrewd observations about the social, political and cultural landscape of contemporary America. Photos not seen by PW
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For Solnit, walking the earth, placing words on a page, and standing up for her beliefs are symbiotic acts. Following in the footsteps of her guiding light, Henry David Thoreau, Solnit contemplates our sense of place, an ever-shifting mix of nature and culture. The author of 10 books, each a remarkably incisive blend of history and interpretation, Solnit, a global justice activist, now presents a potent collection of nearly 40 essays sophisticated in thought, elegant in expression, and catalyzing in impact. Solnit's anchoring place is Nevada, the site of the detonation of hundreds of nuclear bombs and countless battles over land, water, and the disposal of nuclear waste. Radiating out from this blasted epicenter, Solnit considers the fate of Native Americans, the fallout from the often overlooked Mexican-American War, and the enormous influence of computer technology. Reflections on such seminal creators as Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, and Eliot Porter yield surprising treasures. And underlying all is Solnit's quest for understanding how our dream of paradise has failed to keep us from ravaging the planet. Seaman, Donna Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved