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The Idea of the Wilderness

Stephan V. Beyer
The list author says: "The wilderness has been an integral part of the American vision almost from the moment that Europeans stumbled across a huge land whose existence they had never even suspected. The idea of wilderness is now the subject of a deeply political debate couched in postmodernist intellectual terms. Is there really such a thing as wilderness at all, or is wilderness merely a social and historically determined construct – and one that is racist and classist to boot? If there is value in the wilderness, does it exist independently of the ability of wilderness to meet human needs, whether for timber or solace? What value is there in the wilderness? It is clear to me, anyway, that the value of wilderness is deeply spiritual. Many of the books below were instrumental in forming that point of view."
Desert Solitaire
Desert Solitaire
"Early essays by the original curmudgeon, typically raucous, outrageous, personal, passionate, fascinating, and the best introduction to the man himself, who throughout his life stood as a uniquely independent advocate for the stark landscapes of the red-rock West"
Land of Little Rain
Land of Little Rain
"Poetic studies of the Southwestern desert, first published in 1903, that set terms to our understanding of wilderness that remain important today, describing the desert plants, animals, mountains, birds, skies, Indians, prospectors, and towns, not as a traveler but as a participant"
The Great New Wilderness Debate
The Great New Wilderness Debate
"Explores the now traditional idea, set forth from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Aldo Leopold, of wildernessas as the site of spirituality and redemption, and its contemporary challenges by postmodern and postcolonial scholars, who attack this notion as romantic, colonialist, exploitative, and antihumanist"
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
"A Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of interconnected essays that are far from celebrating a nurturing and comfortable wilderness, but rather grittily consistent in exploring both the beauty and savagery of nature, where a cedar tree becomes ”the tree with the lights in it”"
A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation
A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation
"A classic work on our relationship to the land -- sensible, ethical, observant, and profound -- that ranks with Walden as one of the seminal books on the relationship of man and nature in America, filled with trenchant comments on our abuse of the land and on what we must do -- and how we must change -- in order to save it"
Crossing Open Ground
Crossing Open Ground
"One of our best contemporary nature writers talks about Aztec aviaries, beached whales in Oregon, the killing of animals in order to study them, each essay encouraging, in its understated, thoughtful way, a view of nature less as an ecological and more as a spiritual system"
Green Psychology: Transforming our Relationship to the Earth
Green Psychology: Transforming our Relationship to the Earth
"A collection of essays sharing a medical metaphor -- that the idea of domination over nature is the underlying pathology whose primary symptoms are an alienation of the human spirit and an unprecedented destruction of the very systems on which that spirit depends"
John Muir : Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth; My First Summer in the Sierra; The Mountains of California; Stickeen; Essays (Library of America)
John Muir : Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth; My First Summer in the Sierra; The Mountains of California; Stickeen; Essays (Library of America)
"Collects, in a single volume, the most important works of a writer who holds a unique place in the history of the American west, an explorer, writer, passionate political activist, and eloquent spokesman for the mystery and power of the wilderness"
Wilderness and the American Mind
Wilderness and the American Mind
"A classic study of America’s changing attitudes toward wilderness, tracing the development of preservationist and environmentalist thought, listed by the Los Angeles Times as among the one hundred most influential books published in the last quarter of the twentieth century"
The Idea of Wilderness: From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology
The Idea of Wilderness: From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology
"A wide-ranging work of intellectual history examining the environmental consequences of varying conceptions of nature, and seeking ”to reverse America's historical process, to urge the wilderness to grow back into civilization, to release the stored energy from layers below us”"
Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind
Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind
"A groundbreaking anthology, commissioned by the Sierra Club, that has become the definitive text for the ecopsychology movement, collecting work by ecological activists, therapists, writers, and healers on how the psychological health of humanity, individually and collectively, is inextricably linked to the health of the planet"
A Place in Space: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Watersheds
A Place in Space: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Watersheds
"A collection of bioregional essays written by poet Gary Snyder over the past forty years, drawing inspiration from Buddhist teachings, Native American traditions, and Chinese poetry, and using the concept of a watershed -- land drained by a river system -- as both model and metaphor for a steady-state global economy freed from exploitation"
The Practice of the Wild: With a New Preface by the Author
The Practice of the Wild: With a New Preface by the Author
"Nine more 'meditations on what it means to be human,' dealing with Buddhist belief, wildness, wildlife, and the world -- a central text on wilderness and the interaction of nature and culture"
Henry David Thoreau : A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden; Or, Life in the Woods / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod (Library of America)
Henry David Thoreau : A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden; Or, Life in the Woods / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod (Library of America)
"Classic writings that combines natural observation, personal experience, and historical lore, about Thoreau himself, about the human relationship with nature, and about what it means to be a free and self-reliant person in a civilized world"
The Abstract Wild
The Abstract Wild
"A passionate, outspoken contrarian on wilderness issues, who dislikes natural resource managers, conservation biologists, environmental economists, park rangers, zoo directors, and environmental activists, rants against mediated, managed, abstract wilderness, and in favor of connection to the real thing"