Wilderness and the American Mind

Wilderness and the American Mind Roderick Nash s classic study of America s changing attitudes toward wilderness has received wide acclaim since its initial publication in The Los Angeles Times has listed it among the one hundre

  • Title: Wilderness and the American Mind
  • Author: Roderick Nash
  • ISBN: 9780300091229
  • Page: 156
  • Format: Paperback
  • Roderick Nash s classic study of America s changing attitudes toward wilderness has received wide acclaim since its initial publication in 1967 The Los Angeles Times has listed it among the one hundred most influential books published in the last quarter century, Outside Magazine has included it in a survey of books that changed our world, and it has been called the BookRoderick Nash s classic study of America s changing attitudes toward wilderness has received wide acclaim since its initial publication in 1967 The Los Angeles Times has listed it among the one hundred most influential books published in the last quarter century, Outside Magazine has included it in a survey of books that changed our world, and it has been called the Book of Genesis for environmentalists Now a fourth edition of this highly regarded work is available, with a new preface and epilogue in which Nash explores the future of wilderness and reflects on its ethical and biocentric relevance.

    One thought on “Wilderness and the American Mind”

    1. "Wilderness and the White Male American Mind" would be a more accurate title. The information that was included was highly informative, comprehensive, and interesting, but there were a LOT of voices missing. I definitely recommend this book as a starting place, but you'll need to read a lot more to actually understand the role of wilderness in the American experience.

    2. I had Rod Nash as a prof. Rod had me for a student. I lived (as many) a couple chapters of this book (between 1st ed. and 2; giving 3 and beyond as gifts), and I could have used this book at that time, because its first edition preceded me and the work of many others. Warning: this is not a popular history, this is a "fully referenced" academic text, it is not easy reading. In a word: it's dense. But the book is capable of clarifying terminology confusion in the environmental movement.An aside f [...]

    3. I believed that this book would be an exploration of the concept of "wilderness" as it relates to the American mind. And it is, for about one hundred pages. Since this is a four hundred page bok, that leaves a lot of space to fill.I found the first two hundred pages to be interesting, the last two hundred to be a slog. Nash spends an interminable amount of time covering "contemporary" environmental struggles. Were it my book, I would have omitted the chapter about Alaska. I imagine that most who [...]

    4. It’s a good reminder every time I’m made aware that our ideas aren’t our own, that our society’s ideas aren’t the only ones, that whatever current intellectual revolution we find ourselves in, it’s the temporary result of hundreds or thousands of cumulative years of ideas. If it comes in the form of a book on wilderness, so be it. And even, it’s all the more apt that it should come from a book on wilderness.“A millennium is almost meaningless geologically; in terms of human histo [...]

    5. Let's face it. I started this book in March. It is January. I have finished aver 50 other books since I started this one. I am not going to finish this book. The topic sounds interesting, but the writing style is too academic for the general reader like myself. It may be a very good academic thesis, but is not the book for me. To be fair I did not rank it.

    6. A good book, but kind of tedious. At times it felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again.

    7. I read the fourth edition (2001) of this work that first appeared in 1967.Nash's book provides a foundation in the history of the idea of wilderness in the New World, and specifically the United States. He argues that concept of wilderness resides close to the heart of what it means essentially to be American. This account references Cotton Mather, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Fennimore Cooper, Mark Twain, Jack London, Gertrude Stein and many others, but the main line of philosophy recognizing val [...]

    8. This book is an outstanding resource for the student of American wilderness history up to the 70s. Keeping in mind this is an older edition, the newer one may be equally useful through the end of the 20th century. The bibliographical essay at the end alone is worth the purchase.However, the book itself is not particularly inspiring. The writing is slow and plodding. Sometimes theories are arrived at that are not necessary to the discussion and rest on shaky ground. While comprehensive, its organ [...]

    9. I can't claim to be an environmentalist. I am a student of history however, and in some strange and imperceptible way I am fascinated by the history of the conservation, or one might better call it, wilderness movement here in these United States. Like a lot of my fellow students I was assigned this book by a rather incorrigible and inspirational professor in my senior year at college, and after reading it I am sure not the same person I was going in.You don't know what you don't know, and as it [...]

    10. Nash tells the fascinating history of the relationship between non-native (almost entirely white male) people and wilderness, focusing on the United States. He describes many philosophical and policy questions our society has faced as Europeans established and then advanced a frontier at end edge of their civilization. He ends by comparing and connecting the history of the American wilderness to those of many other countries on our planet and ends with far-out picture of how a sophisticated futu [...]

    11. Exceptional. Was a true revelation to me at that time and has informed my opinions on Wilderness and policy ever since.

    12. Had to write a review for class, so here it is: Roderick Frazier Nash’s now classic text impressively lays the foundation for the field of Environmental History. By using an “inside-out” approach to examine the way America, or more specifically white elite American men, thought about nature, Nash reveals how trends toward “civilization” created desires for “wilderness” during America’s short history. The book’s narrative is fluid using a chronological form, with some profiles o [...]

    13. Nash chronicles American attitudes toward their country's wild places in hopes of answering the big question: What role does thou unspoiled, unaltered, natural place serve in our society? As I read Wilderness & the American Mind, I found not only is this answer politically & emotionally charged as say the question of creation versus evolution, but the answer changes depending on where and when you ask it.The book masterfully depicts the dramatic periods of change in the American psyche a [...]

    14. This book is often credited as the fountainhead of the field of environmental history. Roderick Nash has chronicled here the intellectual history of the concept of "wilderness" in the American mind. From Puritans who feared the wilderness as the God-forsaken realm of the Devil to Transcendentalists who romanticized it as tantamount to communing with God to contemporary (mid-twentieth century at the time) debates between conservationists (utilitarian-minded views of wilderness) and preservationis [...]

    15. Must read. Fascinating look at how we think about and define wilderness throughout the last few hundred years. Nash reveals how the dominant view about wild spaces in American society shifts through various stages. In the beginning, nature needed to be tamed; we feared the dark forests and developed folklore praising heroes that conquered the natural world. From fear came opportunity, and a period of unchecked resource extraction (lumber, mining, etc.). When mining practices became too devastati [...]

    16. Nash provides a great primer on the evolution of the wilderness construct in American history. Although less postmodernist than Cronan, he introduces the idea that wilderness is a "state of mind, a perceived rather than an actual condition" (i). I found the strengths of this text lie in Nash's ability to document the historical evolution of the wilderness idea while simultaneously engaging several prominent themes including: man vs. nature (chaos vs. control), the normative wilderness, the roots [...]

    17. A really nice history of on the American approach to wilderness from pre-inception to modern times. It's not, shall we say, an environmentalists handbook, more a reasonably objective history of how we have approached wilderness, whether it be as resource, spiritual retreat, enemy, or teacher. The book doesn't linger very long on any period or subject, except maybe the debate over the Hetch Hetchy where it seems to get mired down a bit to much in gossip and hearsay. Sadly the book totally glosses [...]

    18. Fulfilling our evolutionary potential without compromising or eliminating the opportunity of other species doing the same?Wilderness and the American Mind is an examination, both cultural and philosophical, of the evolution of the American concept of wilderness. Nash employs the work of historical and contemporary figures who wrote from a Western perspective about the American concept of wilderness.Don't dismiss Nash's epilogue (to the 4th and 5th edition): "A Vision for Human Occupancy of Earth [...]

    19. I was a little disappointed given this book's monumental status. A more apt title would be "Wilderness and American Attitudes"- Nash's technique is more to survey than to analyze; he rarely delves beneath the surface of what newspapers reported, philosophers wrote, or politicians said during a given period. This makes for a repetitive read- a word count on "wilderness" and "civilzation" in this book would yield grotesque sums. The fourth edition adds almost nothing except an Afterword in which N [...]

    20. If you are interested in the history of American wilderness there is no better or more comprehensive book. It's incredible how complicated American attitudes toward wild places have always been, and to see the shifting perspectives, totems, and villains in what is ultimately an intellectual battle over the state of the human soul as humanity grows into something only conceivable philosophically. Wildness which defined America's early pioneer life and made it a new "Garden of Eden," in the West q [...]

    21. I started this while traveling, ironically, home from Yellowstone. I thoroughly recommend the fourth edition, published in 2001, which benefits from the writer's insights into changes in environmental policy and the changing perceptions of wilderness and wildness since the first appearance of this book in 1967. In other words, this is a marvelous historiography of American society and its evolving notion of wilderness. While pretty dense, and a bit intimidating for recreational reading (i.e smal [...]

    22. Pretty fascinating look at how thought concerning wilderness has changed in the U.S. since pioneers first set out to conquer it. Nash focuses on a few intellectual leaders as catalysts for changing attitudes and I especially enjoyed reading about early 20th century efforts to begin protecting wilderness areas in a significant way.Additional chapters in this edition concerning Alaska and the International perspective started to strain my interest, but the chapter titled "The Irony of Victory" was [...]

    23. This is an excellent survey of the history of the concept of wilderness in America. Originally published in 1967, the latest edition contains four additional chapters. The even-handed treatment of the topic has made this a classic of its genre, and its themes and lessons resonate through time. Our current debates about global warming and oil exploration echo the many (seemingly) forgotten political battles of the past, laid out here in lucid detail. Noticeably absent, however, is any discussion [...]

    24. This book is a history of wilderness preservation in the US. The author argues that Americans have gone from fear of wilderness to a preservation ethic. I think it's good overview with lots of useful facts. However I was frustrated by the authors failure to critically examine the idea of "pure wilderness". For example he never acknowledges that Native Americans changed their environment, but instead argues as though North America was "untouched" before European settlement. I also wish the that t [...]

    25. Exhaustively researched, Wilderness and the American Mind is required reading for anyone interested in the history of the American environmental movement. Nash packs tons of information into each chapter, but he ties it all together with a compelling, enjoyable narrative. Like all historiography, Nash's narrative is just one perspective on a wide, deep field. Nevertheless, he provides the reader with a firm foundation to conduct his or her own research.

    26. This book is the ultimate go-to resource for a course on Nature Writing. It covers the history of our perception of nature, including the changing views of artists, authors, and explorers. Nash also covers the lives of a few of the more influential people in nature like Thoreau and Leopold. Most resource books used in this way tend to be dull accounts of facts, but this was actually a pretty easy and interesting read.

    27. A heady well written tome. Definitely more of a history book than a story which would have made the book four times longer, although, perhaps more of a 5 star read. Recommended to get a cursory understanding about how society's thoughts on wilderness have changed over time and the people that helped to make it happen.

    28. What is the American attitude toward nature? More importantly how do we find balance between our need for wildness and our need for civilized life? Thoreau addressed these issues. So does Nash in this very thorough and enlightening book. I see it a "must-read" for anyone who loves the natural worldd everyone else too.

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