This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent

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Product Details
University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.8 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Daegan Miller is an essayist and critic, and the author of This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent. He lives with his family in the hill towns of Western Massachusetts. You can find out more about Daegan at

"A fascinating, often hopeful journey through the landscape histories of 'vibrant resistance'--anarchism, anti-slavery movements, social-justice activists--that have sprung up across North America over the last two centuries." --Robert Macfarlane "Guardian, Best Books of the Year"
"Though the histories in This Radical Land took place long ago, the era's conflicted ideas about preservation, sustainability, and progress still confuse the debate over just what our relationship to nature should be."--Robert Macfarlane "Bookforum"
"Miller offers an engaging interplay of natural and political history, and demonstrates an eye for that single detail that can illuminate the whole damn diorama. . . . Miller succeeds in sketching an evocative if episodic shadow history of American expansion, and succeeds also in unearthing the 19th-century roots of an environmentalism founded in sustainable human engagement with the natural world."--Robert Macfarlane "Times Higher Education"
"A debut book that ranges across disciplines and decades to connect the natural environment--especially long-lived trees--to a scathing critique of American-style capitalism. Alternating abstract theory with impressive research, both bolstered by extensive sources . . . the author builds his case about understanding American history by examining destruction of the environment through essays grounded in the 19th century. . . . He offers an eclectic education often marked by soaring prose."

--Robert Macfarlane "Kirkus Reviews"
"Inventive. . . . A creative linking of landscape and radicalism."--Robert Macfarlane "Publishers Weekly"
"Through interpretive brilliance and gorgeously crafted prose, Daegan Miller's This Radical Land: A Natural History of Dissent rescues this sense of environmental awe from excessive skepticism. . . . One of the most elegant and insightful examples of environmental writing I've seen in many, many years."--Robert Macfarlane "Pacific Standard"
"Nuanced, provocative, and immensely learned. . . . We would do well, through the conversation started here by Miller, to find the sparks of 'radicalism' in their relations with nature, and use those sparks to build our world."
--Robert Macfarlane "Nature Plants"
"Seeing nature as wild, rather than curated wilderness or resource for the taking, gave Miller's characters opportunities to chart alternate paths for the nation. If they can do it, Miller implies, why can't we? . . . Miller delights in his sources, and readers will feel that they are walking beside him as he paces off the seven feet of one of Thoreau's maps and opens the heavy covers of the Union Pacific's promotional book of photos. He targets his research precisely. Long lists of sources are not cited merely for the sake of impressive footnotes. At times, metaphor does more of his argument's work than evidence, but that is largely due to Miller's investment in his writing. He wants to woo his readers into following his intuitive leaps from deeply considered theory and historiography to the hard ground of a Utah rail bed."--Flannery Burke "Environmental History"
"Drawing on superb scholarly detective work, This Radical Land tells fascinating stories about the history of our ties to the land that give us an alternative to viewing natural spaces as either a resource to exploit or a wilderness museum for the privileged. Miller peels back the history to reveal that, however ignored, Americans have always resisted the exploitation of nature. Perhaps his more nuanced environmental history will inspire those today who, continuing the mute protest of the witness tree, would pull the planet back from the brink of death."--Richard Higgins, author of Thoreau and the Language of Trees "Environmental History"
"Daegan Miller rekindles a legacy of environmental dissent. The ideas and landscapes of nineteenth-century 'countermoderns' are signposts, still legible, to alternative futures. This book bears witness like a burning bush."--Jared Farmer, author of Trees in Paradise: A California History "Environmental History"
"Remarkable. . . . All told, Miller has produced a wonderful work, not just of environmental history, but also of nature writing in its highest form. This is a book worth reading." --Jared Farmer, author of Trees in Paradise: A California History "Environmental History"
"Daegan Miller presents four essays rooted in landscapes of nineteenth-century America o make the case that there have always been thinkers and actors for whom nature had a higher purpose than capitalist greed. Trees--characterized as "the past's oldest witness" (from the book's first sentence)--play a central role throughout This Radical Land: A Natural History of America Dissent. Each essay has what Miller calls a witness tree that "stands as the central, organizing, orienting landmark" for the tale to be told (6)."--Conner Bailey "American Historical Review"