- Title: A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir
- Author: Donald Worster
- ISBN: 9780199782246
- Page: 489
- Format: Paperback
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I am hopelessly and forever a mountaineer, John Muir wrote Civilization and fever and all the morbidness that has been hooted at me has not dimmed my glacial eye, and I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature s loveliness My own special self is nothing In Donald Worster s magisterial biography, John Muir s special self is fully explored as is his extra I am hopelessly and forever a mountaineer, John Muir wrote Civilization and fever and all the morbidness that has been hooted at me has not dimmed my glacial eye, and I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature s loveliness My own special self is nothing In Donald Worster s magisterial biography, John Muir s special self is fully explored as is his extraordinary ability, then and now, to get others to see the sacred beauty of the natural world A Passion for Nature is the most complete account of the great conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club ever written It is the first to be based on Muir s full private correspondence and to meet modern scholarly standards Yet it is also full of rich detail and personal anecdote, uncovering the complex inner life behind the legend of the solitary mountain man It traces Muir from his boyhood in Scotland and frontier Wisconsin to his adult life in California right after the Civil War up to his death on the eve of World War I It explores his marriage and family life, his relationship with his abusive father, his many friendships with the humble and famous including Theodore Roosevelt and Ralph Waldo Emerson , and his role in founding the modern American conservation movement Inspired by Muir s passion for the wilderness, Americans created a long and stunning list of national parks and wilderness areas, Yosemite most prominent among them Yet the book also describes a Muir who was a successful fruit grower, a talented scientist and world traveler, a doting father and husband, a self made man of wealth and political influence A man for whom mountaineering was a pathway to revelation and worship For anyone wishing to fully understand America s first great environmentalist, and the enormous influence he still exerts today, Donald Worster s biography offers a wealth of insight into the passionate nature of a man whose passion for nature remains unsurpassed.
Recent Comments "A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir"
Appreciated better understanding how Muir's beliefs evolved over time and how they were shaped by the politics and social movements of his time he struggled to find a "purpose" in life- wanderings and different jobs throughout his 20s and 30s. He could work hard and was gifted as an inventor and owner of a fruit growing operation- lots of contradictions! How hard he fought to get away from his psycho evangelical punitive father, but then in some ways turned out to be just as evangelical-- about [...]
I can't imagine a more detailed biography than this was. Though at many points I wished Worster would skip some of the details, now that I'm done I have a much clearer picture of Muir as a person and of the rise of the modern conservationist movement in the late 1800s.- Born in Scotland, raised in Wisconsin, he was somewhat of a black sheep – the wanderer who resisted his family's desires for him to continue the family farm. Despite this dubious start he ended up being the rock of the family, [...]
an engaging, at times overly academic, but well written narrative of muir's life.
In the popular imagination, John Muir spent his life as an unfettered rambler, tramping through the Sierra Nevadas and writing about nature. It’s a great image, but in truth Muir didn’t arrive in California until he was nearly thirty years old, and then he spent only six years freely exploring the Sierras before settling near San Francisco, marrying, and eventually becoming a prosperous ranch manager. Later in life he did continue to travel and explore, but increasingly Alaska and its glacia [...]
I found this book to be extremely engrossing. I didn't know that John Muir was considered one of Ralph Waldo Emerson's men. The author, Donald Worster, has a good grasp on the delicate balance between appealing to the people to break out of the rat race to appreciate natural wonders and appealing to the powerful such as Theodore Roosevelt and the railroad magnate, Harriman. John Muir's life was an amazing force that helped establish national parks and monuments all over the western US. He was un [...]
Thorough biography. Not one of those biographies that reads as smoothly and quickly as a novel, but a good, solid exploration of Muir's life. The author seemed rather anti-religion. Muir's exploration of religion seemed to play a significant role in his life; at times I wondered how much the author's interpretation was accurate and how much was his own projection onto Muir.
This book helped me realize there was so much I didn't know about John Muir. Though occasionally plodding, the book is nonetheless generally well written, enjoyable, and informative.
This was an interesting book. John Muir was born in Scotland and moved to the U.S. with his family in 1849. They settled in Wisconsin. His family was religious. He was eager to see the world and excelled at inventing things. He went to college, found mentors there that encouraged him in his passion for he outdoors. He walked and explored much of the country and the world - through the southeastern U.S South America, Utah, the West, California, Alaskad beyond. He is most well-known for his love o [...]
[Note: the following does reveal some specific issues and events portrayed in this book. I would not characterize any of these revelations as "spoilers," since people rarely read biographies seeking suspense.:) ]Biography has never been my favorite literary genre, largely because of the primary dilemma faced by the biographer: to what extent will he or she attempt to divine the hidden motives, discover the untold thoughts, and even probe the unconscious mind of the book's subject? Treat such mat [...]
"I'm in the woods, woods, woods, and they are in me-ee-ee" - John MuirIt's impossible not to compare this to the Thoreau biography I read earlier this year, and despite some interesting similarities this doesn't reach those heights--Muir's thought feels less vital and contemporary than HDT's (although it's more recent), and as written his tale is less compelling. But there's still plenty worth reading, the charming oddity of the young Muir and a valuable history of the early U.S. conservation mo [...]
Quite an amazing book in its depth and breadth. I love reading about the way society and family culture affect people throughout their lives, and this book shows it well. Muir's tough Scots childhood probably prepared him well for the deprivations he went through when he was traveling, and I can see how nature showed him beauty he probably had no idea existed. No wonder he was so passionate about it.
I honestly didn't know anything about John Muir other than he's a hiking guy. I really don't feel I know much more than that now. How did he get so popular? How did he get to talk to Roosevelt? He started the Sierra Club but never did anything with it. Why is he revered? I feel like I missed it all, and I certainly read every word
Can't really imagine anybody wanting anything more for a Muir biography. Seems to cover all possible bases. If you're interested in the birth of the American conservation movement, this is a great place to start.
Reading this book is like "I am going home. Going to the mountains, to the ice & forests & flowers." Muir quote from page 246.
I feel like my understanding of JM increase very little at the cost of way too many pages. The author does a good job at justifying his admiration for Muir, but I was looking for something that would bring me closer to JM shoes. I would have like to understand more the complete character: flaws, virtues, aspirations and contributions.
So John Muir turns out to be much more complex and nuanced than I thought. The author did an excellent job of showing Muir as a complete person, and the biography shines when Muir is allowed to speak himself through is letters to friends. The last third of the book, describing the latter portion of Muir's life when he became more involved with politics (though somewhat unwillingly) is particularly engrossing. The book has several significant weaknesses though, particularly in the early sections [...]
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature,"he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ― John MuirI was introduced to John Muir through the serendipity of reading and was immediately fascinated by this complex man, he is an important part of the last chapter of a book I just finished The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science Written by Andrea Wulf, where he is inspired by this other great man to discover nature with a reverence that chan [...]
Absolutely agree with Tim Palmer and I quote.This biography by the eminent historian Donald Worster is nothing less than magnificent. Clearly the most authoritative account of America's founding conservationist, it is painstakingly researched, thoroughly pondered, brilliantly imagined, and luminously crafted. From the backdrop of nineteenth century Scotland where John Muir was born to a world torn by the Great War and an unstoppable avalanche of social and economic upheaval, this story reveals t [...]
Having read John Muir's My First Summer in the Sierras in a class, I had always been curious to learn more about this largely self-taught naturalist. Muir is also an important figure in 19th Century American History. He was one of the founding members of the Sierra Club and used his stature as a beloved nature writer to impress upon Americans and their political leaders the importance of preserving large tracks of wilderness for recreational and spiritual refreshment. He loved to hike and sleep [...]
Worster has written a comprehensive account of a fascinating life that really inspires me. Although I had known that John Muir had founded the Sierra club in Victorian times, I had not known:- how appreciation of nature had freed him from the oppressive Calvinism of his early life, and what a struggle he had with religious belief through the first half of his life- his talent and dedication to invention and millwork - making systems work better- his inner struggle between dedication to family an [...]
Fascinating to finally read a full account of John Muir's incredible life. Although I've read most everything he published, it was impossible to get a nonpartisan view of Muir and an all-encompassing portrait of the man and his life. The author was able to craft a very compelling and revealing narrative of the great, charming man without turning a blind eye to Muir's faults or the fact that later in life Muir became much more of a well-to-do businessman (as a grower/farmer) more comfortable with [...]
Three stars. I picked this up because I had heard so much about John Muir during the Ken Burns PBS series on the National Parks. His influence on the creation of the National Parks was inspirational and I wanted to know more about him. But the book was only OK at doing that. I was somewhat disappointed in it. I felt it started badly, describing Muir’s early life in Dunbar, Scotland. There were small inaccuracies in this section (“British Railway Company” should be “North British” for e [...]
"A Washington Post best book of the year" signals the cover of this wonderful book that I saw in my local public library, St Leonards (South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture).Fresh from reading John Muir's own accounts on my Kindle, I saw this book while browsing. I wanted to get a context for what I had read.I wasn't disappointed. The struggles Muir had to protect areas of outstanding natural beauty in the United States and why he wanted to do that make absorbing reading. His was a global repu [...]
When I was in high school, I met John Muir on the Appalachian Trail. Well, yes, the naturalist had died many years earlier, but the bearded through-hiker had come from Muir's mold. This lawyer had taken to the trail to explore all the deep questions of life, justice, and the American way. John Muir spent much of his life wandering and contemplating, too. His life is a consolation to any high schooler who doesn't know what he wants and hasn't defined his goals. Muir took in a lot of life and natu [...]
A definitive biography of Muir was long overdue. Linnie Marsh Wolfe's Son of Wilderness: The Life of John Muir was published in 1945 and has been considered the definitive biography. Worster tries to surpass it, but ultimately comes up short. The chapters on Muir and his relationship with his father and the Thousand Mile Walk are superior to Wolfe. Unfortunately, Worster's chapters on Muir and the Sierra fail in comparison to Wolfe. Worster does not bring to life Muir's passionate intensity for [...]
Book Club book, but still very good Lots of interesting facts about John Muir
One of my favorite Americans. Though born in Scotland, John Muir embodied the American spirit. He was intelligent, thoughtful and full of energy for the great outdoors. I think of him as Robert Frost's swinger of birches. He actually climbed a tree during a storm to catch the feeling of the swinging branches. Muir was more than a man who took grand hikes through beautiful American forests, he was also a rancher who took over his father-in-law's place in Martinez, CA. Muir met some great American [...]
John Muir lived a ridiculous life. I mean, really. His 1,000 mile walk to the Gulf during Reconstruction, gallivanting all over the world, helping spearhead the development of the conservation movement. This man truly was a larger than life character. It is honestly tough at times to keep in mind that I am reading a work of non-fiction!Not much to say other than I am impressed my Worster's ability to put together a cohesive narrative when there is so much info out there about Muir.Basically, if [...]
Biographies are one of my favorite classes of books. Learning what make people tick.Being a lover of hiking and natural beauty, I originally listened to this book as I needed a break from the traditional "leadership" biographies (Jobs, Robert E. Lee, Rockefeller & Ford) but Muir definitely was a Leader of similar caliber.Born a "middle class" Scotsman - Muir had to break a tyrannical father and find his own passion in the world. Mainly by the power of his pen, Muir gained a following that in [...]
The second of two Donald Worster books I've read. The first of which was Rivers of Empire. Since I loved "Rivers" - I was eager to see this historian's approach to a biography. I have to say, I am not disappointed. Thorough and presented with oodles of historical and ideological context of the period, this biography creates a truly comprehensive vision of the life and times of John Muir. I suspect that I have yet to fully realize the effects of this Muir biography. Most obvious effects: I feel l [...]
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