A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir


Product Details

$34.95  $32.50
Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.38 X 9.42 X 1.58 inches | 1.95 pounds

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About the Author

Donald Worster is Hall Distinguished Professor of American History, University of Kansas and the author of many books, including A River Running West (OUP 2000); The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination (OUP 1993); and Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West (OUP 1993),


"The record of Muir's life that Worster has scrupulously assembled, fascinating in its own right, takes on added significance as Worster sets it in context."--New York Times Book Review

"A wonderful book that celebrates Muir's life and legacy."--San Francisco Chronicle

"An excellent new biography of John Muir..."--New York Review of Books

"To write this excellent biography of John Muir, Donald Worster zealously ransacked the letters and journals of the great, self-taught naturalist.... This well-written biography reveals a man whose mission in life was simply to entice people to see Nature's loveliness."--True West

"With this splendid biography, Donald Worster...reminds us of the debt we owe John Muir... Mr. Worster's meticulous research and fluid writing style make A Passion for Nature a model of biography."--Dallas Morning News

"John Muir's battles to preserve the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite Park, his founding of the Sierra Club, his final, bitter, unsuccessful effort to save Hetch Hetchy Valley, his pioneering insights into the geology of the glacial age, and his late Victorian combination of religion and pantheism have been extensively chronicled. What is unique about A Passion for Nature is the skill with which Worster places Muir in a political context. Worster helps us understand how the love of nature is related to other social movements for equality, that human indifference to the natural world is morally an example of the oppressive hierarchies that mar our history." --Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club

"Donald Worster's A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir is an engagingly written, adroitly balanced appraisal that places its subject within the emerging environmental consciousness of the late 19th century. Drawing on a host of letters and journals, Worster, a highly regarded historian of environmental movements, composes a complete and completely appealing picture of a more complicated man than we thought we knew."--Boston Globe

"A towering biography of a towering figure! John Muir is one of those very few Americans who reshaped the way we saw the world. This volume, from one of our most eminent historians, makes clear both the sources and the meaning of Muir's great and wild epiphany." --Bill McKibben, author of The Bill McKibben Reader

"...this marvelously fluent portrait of the man who sought to establish 'an ethic of environmental restraint' a century ago and whose powerful arguments still hold."--Booklist

"Competently documented, this all-inclusive biography explains the life and times of a figure known to all who love nature and will appeal to general readers and anyone interested in the early roots of today's green movement and its founding fathers."--Library Journal

"Reading Donald Worster's superb new biography...is as close as history will ever get to understanding what made the multidimensional Sierra Club founder tick. Yosemite's great bard bursts through Worster's fine prose in all his cosmic grace and preservationist pluck."--Douglas Brinkley, Los Angeles Times

"Comprehensive, measured, deeply sympathetic and well balanced, it is nevertheless provocative, and a great read to boot."--San Francisco Chronicle Review

"A magnificent account of one of the principal leaders of the environmental movement in America. This is an engaging and eautifully written story that illumines the broader sources and challenges of Muir's passion for nature." --Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University

"As far as the American environment is concerned, few figures have wielded more influence than John Muir. How appropriate, then, that one of Americas most noted environmental historians, Donald Worster, should now present John Muir in all his complexity and achievement in this authoritative and lively biography." --Kevin Starr, University of Southern California

"A Passion for Nature is an excellent, readable, engaging piece of scholarship that should now be considered the definitive biography of one of America's most influential advocates for nature."--American Scientist

"America has had no more passionate defender of wild nature than John Muir, and there is no more passionate chronicler of the nations environmental past than Donald Worster. We are lucky that so insightful and eloquent a scholar has now produced a biography of Muir that will surely be regarded as a benchmark for many years to come." --William Cronon, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Worster's comprehensive biography of our state's first naturalist spends as much energy on reconstructing Muir's emotional life as in recording dates and details. Given the importance of Muir both to California and to conservation, its a worthy topic."--Sacramento News & Review

"In A Passion for Nature, Donald Worster provides a beautifully crafted, richly detailed, and sophisticated biography of Muir."--Reviews in American History

"Donald Worster is a widely acclaimed environmental historian. In A Passion for Nature, he tells a deeply human story, delving into Muir's private, sometimes barely legible writings, while bringing the complex scientific and political debates of the period to life."--Times Literary Supplement

"Worster is the leading environmental historian of the American West and his biography, A Passion for Nature, is definitive.... Highly recommended."--CHOICE

"...Worster provides fresh insights into this seminal figure in American environmental history... A Passion For Nature is a rich treatment of Muir's life and thought... Worster is masterful at placing Muir in content... Worster's biography is a compelling and essential work."--Oregon Historical Quarterly

"Worster provides fresh insights into this seminal figure in American environmental history.... A compelling and essential work."--Mark Harvery, Oregon Historical Quarterly

"Worster has given us a provocative, complicated, and sympathetic portrait of Muir.... Supporters and critics of Muir will find much to reckon with here."--Robert M. Wilson, H-Net Reviews

"Few scholars could be better qualified than Worster to assess John Muir's place in American environmental tradition...Worster brilliantly recreates Muir and his world in all their complexity." -- Jackson Lears, The New Republic

"Sierra Club founder John Muir has inspired many books over the years, but this biography stands out as a scholarly yet readable, approach..." -- The Green Life (Sierra Club blog)

"Readers of Worster's subtle, layered biography of Muir would do well to turn its pages slowly and perhaps perambulate for a few minutes at the end of each chapter...As I savored this book over several days...I became convinced of Worster's wisdom, embodied by his decision to let the story of Muir's tangled life - especially his personal life - suggest the complexity of both the author's and his subject's 'passion for nature.' " -- Aaron Sachs, American Historical Review

"A Passion for Nature supplants all earlier Muir biographies and will undoubtedly stand the test of time for its sophisticated interpretations and impressive narrative power. Worster manages to breathe life into the well-worn Muir story, a tribute to his considerable skill as a writer and historian. This book is a pleasure to read."--Journal of American History