by David Brower and Steve Chapple
(New edition preface by Bill McKibben, foreword by Amory Lovins)
David Brower, elder statesman of the ecology movement, reflects on his half-century of controversial environmental activism as former Sierra Club executive director and founder of Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute. Sparing no sacred cows – himself least of all – Brower outlines his plan to save our planet. Recalling past glories and stinging defeats – Glen Canyon Dam chief among them – Brower outlines his modest yet thoroughly plausible plan to rescue Mother Earth for the next generation. An intellectually moving and emotionally stirring book, Brower challenges readers to change their ways because, as he says, it’s not too late to administer CPR for an ailing planet if we all work together to win the crucial battles for the Earth.
“David Brower has been for many years a steady force of nature, drawing us to see the natural world as nurturer, teacher, inspirer, and partner. [He has] been the pathbreaker, not given to easy answers or ruinous compromises … a man of great insight who cares deeply for his world.”
— President Jimmy Carter
“But there is no question; Brower is on the shortlist of the iconic figures of the American twentieth century. Like Cesar Chavez, like Betty Friedan, like a very few others, he changed the way we saw the world. It is not absurd to mention him in the same sentence as Martin Luther King Jr., and there are precious few Americans of whom that is true; the greatest conservationist of the century, the most passionate defender of wild places — but even more, the man who turned conservationism into environmentalism, who took the insights of Rachel Carson and built from them a powerful idea that may yet transform the planet.”
— Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone; author of The End of Nature
“In the debate over the earth’s vanishing wildness no voice is wiser, wittier, or more eloquent than David Brower’s. In Let the Mountains Talk, he offers a vision for the next century that is intelligent, timely, and perhaps above all, attainable. And he increases our stock of a resource that’s in precious short supply these days: Hope.”
— Joe Kane, author of Savages and Running the Amazon
“It is the best distillation of the Brower philosophy yet in print”
— Tom Turner, author of DAVID BROWER: The Making of the Environmental Movement
by John McPhee
David Brower has arguably been the single most influential American environmentalist in the last half of the 20th century; even his erstwhile foes at the Department of the Interior grudgingly credit him with having nearly single-handedly halted the construction of a dam in the heart of the Grand Canyon, and he has converted thousands, even millions, of his compatriots to the preservationist cause through his work.
Brower was in the thick of battle when John McPhee profiled him for the New Yorker in a piece that would evolve into Encounters with the Archdruid. McPhee follows Brower into unusually close combat as Brower faces down a geologist who is, it seems, convinced that there is no sight quite so elevating as that of a fully operational mine; a developer who (successfully, it turned out) sought to convert an isolated stretch of the Carolina coast into a resort for the moneyed few—and who provided the title for McPhee’s book, wryly opining that conservationists are at heart druids who “sacrifice people and worship trees”; and, most formidable of all, former Interior Secretary Floyd Dominy, who oversaw the construction of a structure that for Brower stands as one of the most hated creations of our time, Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. McPhee offers up an engaging portrait of Brower, a man unafraid of a good fight in the service of the earth, making Encounters an important contribution to the history of the modern environmental movement.
— Gregory McNamee, Amazon.com Review
“The importance of this lively book in the unmanageably proliferating literature on ecology is in its confrontation between remarkable men who hold great differences of opinion with integrity on all sides. Mr. McPhee, not pushing, just presenting, portrays them all in the round, showing them clashing in concrete situations where factors are complex and decisions hard. Readers must choose sides.”
— The Wall Street Journal
“For those who want to understand the issues of the environmental crisis, Encounters with the Archdruid is a superb book. McPhee reveals more nuances of the value revolution that dominates the new age of ecology than most writers could pack into a volume twice as long. I marvel at his capacity to listen intently and extract the essence of a man and his philosophy in the fewest possible words.”
— Stewart Udall
by Tom Turner
In this first comprehensive authorized biography of David Brower, a dynamic leader in the environmental movement over the last half of the twentieth century, Tom Turner explores Brower’s impact on the movement from its beginnings until his death in 2000.
Frequently compared to John Muir, David Brower was the first executive director of the Sierra Club, founded Friends of the Earth, and helped secure passage of the Wilderness Act, among other key achievements. Tapping his passion for wilderness and for the mountains he scaled in his youth, he was a central figure in the creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore and of the North Cascades and Redwood national parks. In addition, Brower worked tirelessly in successful efforts to keep dams from being built in Dinosaur National Monument and the Grand Canyon.
Tom Turner began working with David Brower in 1968 and remained close to him until Brower’s death. As an insider, Turner creates an intimate portrait of Brower the man and the decisive role he played in the development of the environmental movement. Culling material from Brower’s diaries, notebooks, articles, books, and published interviews, and conducting his own interviews with many of Brower’s admirers, opponents, and colleagues, Turner brings to life one of the movement’s most controversial and complex figures.
“David Brower’s standing as one of the twentieth century’s most significant environmentalists was never in doubt. What this much-needed biography does is place him among the century’s most fascinating characters—one of those rare leaders who could not only envision the future but also conjure it into reality.”
— Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
“Tom Turner has written a compelling—and long overdue—biography about one of the earth’s true heroes.”
— Lester R. Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute
“David Brower was a friend and, more important, is a hero of mine. He was one of the greatest pioneering defenders of the environment—a Rachel Carson of wilderness and biodiversity. This lively and fascinating book tells his story beautifully and is long overdue.”
— Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb
By Kenneth Brower
The twentieth-century environmental movement owes much to a single man: David Brower. Countless natural wonders would have been lost if not for his efforts and the tremendous energy put forth by organizations he directed and/or founded (including the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Earth Island Institute). A tireless defender of wild areas, Brower worked to protect iconic places, including the Grand Canyon and the California redwood forests, and his work and passion helped define modern environmentalism.
For the hundredth anniversary of David Brower’s birth, his son Kenneth Brower, an acclaimed nature writer, has brought together the testimonies of twenty environmental leaders whose lives and careers were transformed by David Brower; the result is a book in which a repertory company of path-forgers reveal their deepest values and most moving experiences. Reading like an adventure novel told by the intrepid folks who rode alongside Brower, The Wildness Within presents illuminating anecdotes about a multifaceted man who changed the world, serving as a guide to young people and a bane to bureaucrats and others more cautious in their approach to the crises at hand.
''A tribute to David Brower (1912 2000), father of the modern environmental movement, on what would have been his 100th birthday. Nature writer Kenneth Brower (A Song for Satawal, 2009, etc.) interviewed 20 environmental leaders about his father s influence on their lives and conservation. The result is an engaging compilation that serves as a balanced testimony to Brower’s leadership and an eloquent and candid insider reflection on the movement and how it has changed (more institutionalized, less about fundamental grassroots change). The book also works well as an analysis of effective advocacy and business/nonprofit leadership…A worthy tribute and a good lesson on the conservation movement.''
— Kirkus Reviews
“David Brower was one of the pioneers of the environmental movement, and this collection of 19 interviews—introduced and transcribed by his oldest son, nature writer Kenneth Brower (The Starship and the Canoe) —is a monumental exercise in remembrance by some of the world’s conservation luminaries…In composite, it certainly shows the breadth of Brower’s influence. Says Paul Hawken, 'No single person created more ways and means for people to become active and effective with respect to the environment than David Brower. That is sure.' “
— Publishers Weekly