Hot Best Seller

That Wild Country: An Epic Journey through the Past, Present, and Future of America's Public Lands

Availability: Ready to download

From prominent outdoorsman and nature writer Mark Kenyon comes an engrossing reflection on the past and future battles over our most revered landscapes—America’s public lands. Every American is a public-land owner, inheritor to the largest public-land trust in the world. These vast expanses provide a home to wildlife populations, a vital source of clean air and water, and a From prominent outdoorsman and nature writer Mark Kenyon comes an engrossing reflection on the past and future battles over our most revered landscapes—America’s public lands. Every American is a public-land owner, inheritor to the largest public-land trust in the world. These vast expanses provide a home to wildlife populations, a vital source of clean air and water, and a haven for recreation. Since its inception, however, America’s public land system has been embroiled in controversy—caught in the push and pull between the desire to develop the valuable resources the land holds or conserve them. Alarmed by rising tensions over the use of these lands, hunter, angler, and outdoor enthusiast Mark Kenyon set out to explore the spaces involved in this heated debate, and learn firsthand how they came to be and what their future might hold. Part travelogue and part historical examination, That Wild Country invites readers on an intimate tour of the wondrous wild and public places that are a uniquely profound and endangered part of the American landscape.


Compare

From prominent outdoorsman and nature writer Mark Kenyon comes an engrossing reflection on the past and future battles over our most revered landscapes—America’s public lands. Every American is a public-land owner, inheritor to the largest public-land trust in the world. These vast expanses provide a home to wildlife populations, a vital source of clean air and water, and a From prominent outdoorsman and nature writer Mark Kenyon comes an engrossing reflection on the past and future battles over our most revered landscapes—America’s public lands. Every American is a public-land owner, inheritor to the largest public-land trust in the world. These vast expanses provide a home to wildlife populations, a vital source of clean air and water, and a haven for recreation. Since its inception, however, America’s public land system has been embroiled in controversy—caught in the push and pull between the desire to develop the valuable resources the land holds or conserve them. Alarmed by rising tensions over the use of these lands, hunter, angler, and outdoor enthusiast Mark Kenyon set out to explore the spaces involved in this heated debate, and learn firsthand how they came to be and what their future might hold. Part travelogue and part historical examination, That Wild Country invites readers on an intimate tour of the wondrous wild and public places that are a uniquely profound and endangered part of the American landscape.

30 review for That Wild Country: An Epic Journey through the Past, Present, and Future of America's Public Lands

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    Years ago, I was fortunate to be on an overseas trip, visiting friends and taking in the sights of England and Scotland. I marveled at the age of buildings sometimes twice as old as the settlement site in Jamestown, sadly thinking that we didn’t have anything like that in America. How wrong I was. It is the natural wonders of the world that are there for us to enjoy, and Mark Kenyon’s book offers a mixture of details that is sure interest everyone. If history is your passion, Mr. Kenyon takes us Years ago, I was fortunate to be on an overseas trip, visiting friends and taking in the sights of England and Scotland. I marveled at the age of buildings sometimes twice as old as the settlement site in Jamestown, sadly thinking that we didn’t have anything like that in America. How wrong I was. It is the natural wonders of the world that are there for us to enjoy, and Mark Kenyon’s book offers a mixture of details that is sure interest everyone. If history is your passion, Mr. Kenyon takes us on a journey through the pitched battles between the businessmen and the conservationists, each pursuing a diametrically opposed path. The parks and monuments we visit today (and perhaps take for granted!) might not have been here if not for the efforts of people like Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, John Muir, and Presidents Harrison, Cleveland, and McKinley. When Roosevelt assumed the Presidency, he fought hard for what he believed in, extending by millions of acres the federal land earmarked for enjoyment by the American people. These initial steps were later taken farther by people like Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. If your interests lie in communing with nature (or perhaps you prefer the fishing or hunting aspects), you will not feel left out. Mr. Kenyon describes his fishing almost as if it were holy (and I am sure, to him it is), and even as one who does not fish, I can understand the essence of what he is feeling. Hunting trips are also described, although I enjoyed his detailed search to find antlers. The author shared that these searches also tell him much of where the deer might be once hunting season commences, certainly a huge advantage to those who walk the forests and mountains hunting with a bow. I found the mixture of history and life interesting and entertaining. Wherever Mr. Kenyon was hiking or fishing or whatever, he would interject slices of history before returning to what ever he and his wife or friends were doing. This kept the book moving forward and I liked the combination of personal life story mixed with historical background. This is a great read that just might cause you to begin a search for a good pair of hiking boots. Five stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol Holdcraft

    This historic overview of our national public lands was a great read. As a seventy year old female nature lover and birder, I was unsure if I would relate to this young hunter and fisherman's story. But one chapter into it I was hooked! He vividly describes his journeys into some well known as well as lesser known sites. Then he weaves in the history of how those places became publicly owned and preserved. He brings together the political battles and challenges in a meaningful way. Every person who This historic overview of our national public lands was a great read. As a seventy year old female nature lover and birder, I was unsure if I would relate to this young hunter and fisherman's story. But one chapter into it I was hooked! He vividly describes his journeys into some well known as well as lesser known sites. Then he weaves in the history of how those places became publicly owned and preserved. He brings together the political battles and challenges in a meaningful way. Every person who loves our National Parks and other natural areas should read this book. He makes a great case for how conservative hunting/fishing advocates and liberal nature lovers can and should work together to protect our wild and wonderful public lands.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    I received a free electronic copy of this excellent history of America's Public Lands on December 5, 2019, from Netgalley, Mark Kenyon, and Little A Publishing. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. Kenyon brings to us all the many reasons our public lands are worth fighting for, and details the battles we and our forefathers have fought to keep this important heritage for our children and grandchildren and theirs. I am pleased to recommend this work to friends and family. Mark I received a free electronic copy of this excellent history of America's Public Lands on December 5, 2019, from Netgalley, Mark Kenyon, and Little A Publishing. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. Kenyon brings to us all the many reasons our public lands are worth fighting for, and details the battles we and our forefathers have fought to keep this important heritage for our children and grandchildren and theirs. I am pleased to recommend this work to friends and family. Mark Kenyon is an author I will follow. This is a must-read for all ages. For hunters, fishermen, adventure filmmakers and writers, mountain bikers, skiers, backpackers, and RVers, for people looking for a picnic spot to those with a summer to spend in the wilds. This is a go-to for finding your favorite place, the spot that you know in your soul you need to find peace or to share with a loved one. Kenyon covers all the greats and many of the not-so-great parks for those of us seeking solitude and the blessings of wilderness. He also defines all the past proponents of our national parks, forests, Wilderness parks, BLM, and monuments - from Teddy Roosevelt, Edward Abby, Wallace Stegner, to modern nature lovers like this author, Randy Newberg, Peter Metcalf, Rose Marcario of Patagonia and corporations like Patagonia, REI and Cabela. This is a battle we will lose if we don't stand together. And it is a dirty fight. Always check your sources before you believe what you read, and especially before you donate. Those seeking to move federal lands to state control or private sale can throw unlimited funds into the fight. We can't match them a dollar per dollar. We need to make every penny of our hard-won money count. This is not a political party issue but a concerted effort to keep irreplaceable wild America as it is. I will end with a quote Kenyon shared from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. "They say that hunters and tree huggers can't get together. That's BS. The only way we're going to get anything done is to work together." And remember that if 'they' can't buy the lands, they can cut the funding until there is nothing left to save. Just look at what happened to our parks - especially Joshua Tree National Park, over the last Federal budget shutdown. pub date Dec 1, 2019 rec Dec 5, 2019 Publisher Little A Reviewed on December 17, 2019, at Goodreads, Netgalley, AmazonSmile, Barnes&Noble, and BookBub. Not available for review on Kobo or GooglePlay.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I am a National Park addict - I have made it a point to always visit the national parks available to all Americans whenever I'm near one. My favorite is the one I'm closest to and thus have visited the most - the Great Smoky Mountains NP. But I think that Glacier NP has to run a close second - this jewel of Western Montana is so lovely, with landscapes and vistas so sweeping and majestic that they almost defy description. The wildlife is so varied, from the small pika to mountain goats and I am a National Park addict - I have made it a point to always visit the national parks available to all Americans whenever I'm near one. My favorite is the one I'm closest to and thus have visited the most - the Great Smoky Mountains NP. But I think that Glacier NP has to run a close second - this jewel of Western Montana is so lovely, with landscapes and vistas so sweeping and majestic that they almost defy description. The wildlife is so varied, from the small pika to mountain goats and bighorn sheep to grizzly bears. So this book - part a history of the many types of public lands (it's not just national parks) and how they came into being and how they are managed, and part a travelogue and personal journey of the author's through some of America's most pristine places - appealed to me on many levels. Some of these are places I've visited, or want to visit, while others are places I'm unlikely to go and yet I feel richer knowing that they are there for all Americans. Americans as a nation own an incredible 28% of our land as public lands - 640 million acres. It's not just national parks, but also wildernesses, wildlife refuges, national forests, and other publicly managed lands. The author starts with Yellowstone - the first national park, and first of its kind in the world - and traces the development of public land policy as pro-conservation forces like Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir were confronted by pro-development forces. The pendulum swings back and forth over the next 100 years as these two forces continually push and pull the boundaries on how we use our public lands. The past few years have been an overall loss for the public as there are forces that want to exploit the resources with little regard to what we all lose. This is an important book because Kenyon is not a tree-hugger - he does hunt and fish and wants to protect the natural areas for those uses. The use of public lands can bring together liberals and conservatives, hunters and tree huggers - we all should be concerned about our lands. It has become a partisan point and it should not be - this should concern all of us as Americans. This land IS our land - unless it is sold or exploited by industry. Quotes to remember: Teddy Roosevelt: "Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see." Mark Twain supposedly once said that "history doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes." ...wild places and resources of America, especially its forests, shouldn't be monopolized by the rich few, but rather conserved for the many....conservation should be defined by managing natural resources to "provide the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run." Roosevelt...created 5 national parks, 150 national forests, more than 50 wildlife refuges, and 18 national monuments - in total more than 230 million acres of newly protected lands. And he did all of this despite enormous pushback from anti-public-land forces. In its 9 years of existence, it's said that the Civilian Conservation Corps planted between 2 and 3 billion trees, cleared 13 thousand miles of hiking trails, built more than 40 thousand bridges and 3 thousand fire towers, helped establish more than 700 new state parks, made improvements in 94 national parks or monument areas, and developed 52 thousand acres of public campgrounds. And while all the work happened nearly a century ago, many CCC projects are still used today. October 2, 1968. The legislation formally established two national scenic trails - the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail [I had no idea that the AT was this recently established] ...the nation witnessed a rare moment in history when both Democrats and Republicans fought in equal measure to carry the mantle of the environmental movement forward. Rather than proposing overt land sales...now it's 'Let's cut agency budgets, let's impair the value of these lands, let's not fund all of the management actions, let's not fund all of the back-logged maintenance, let's not give the agencies the money they need to do their work.'

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Cutler

    Wow! This is a wonderful book extolling the beauty of our public lands, and advocating passionately for all of us to protect our incredible heritage, so carefully preserved over more than a century. It is filled with detail about the evolution of the Public Lands preservation movement, and the current horrific assault by some rapacious corporations and politicians to privatize, exploit, and to sell to developers our incredible natural legacy. The author is an avid outdoorsman, a hunter of meat Wow! This is a wonderful book extolling the beauty of our public lands, and advocating passionately for all of us to protect our incredible heritage, so carefully preserved over more than a century. It is filled with detail about the evolution of the Public Lands preservation movement, and the current horrific assault by some rapacious corporations and politicians to privatize, exploit, and to sell to developers our incredible natural legacy. The author is an avid outdoorsman, a hunter of meat to feed his family, and also a hiker and backwoods camper who loves the serenity and beauty of wild habitat. Admittedly, I am uncomfortable with the occasional brief description of a hunt (I am a vegetarian, leaning toward vegan) yet I unquestionably have an admiration for this man who writes so beautifully about his forays into the wilderness, and advocates so eloquently for everyone to join together to protect our public lands. The author presents a clear case for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to join together to preserve our common heritage of public lands for future generations. Highly recommended!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rey

    As someone who loves the outdoors and public land, this book was great. As someone who doesn't like (or understand) fishing and hunting, this book was enlightening and boring. It was interesting to be able to read through the thought process of someone who so loves the world of hunting and flyfishing. I've never quite gotten the appeal, but now I feel like I understand it a little bit more. However, it didn't make me any more interested in it and so those parts of the book got tedious towards As someone who loves the outdoors and public land, this book was great. As someone who doesn't like (or understand) fishing and hunting, this book was enlightening and boring. It was interesting to be able to read through the thought process of someone who so loves the world of hunting and flyfishing. I've never quite gotten the appeal, but now I feel like I understand it a little bit more. However, it didn't make me any more interested in it and so those parts of the book got tedious towards the end. But it was thrilling to read something that is so saturated with an unfettered passion for the outdoors. I'd like to care about anything as much as Kenyon cares about public land. His descriptions of nature are charming and well written and I now can't wait to get out there and explore more national parks. I love how he weaved together his stories with the history of America's public land and the threat they face. It kept you engaged without getting bogged down with all the technicalities. I have a much better grasp on the importance of standing up for our nation's parks, refuges, trails..etc and I genuinely hope people like Kenyon win in the end.

  7. 4 out of 5

    J.S.

    DNF at page 89 (plus some skipping around). Just too much travelogue and not enough public land information. Kenyon, a hunter and outdoor enthusiast from Michigan, argues in support of federally-owned ("public") lands. Unfortunately, he seems to lump anyone who doesn't espouse his view in with Cliven Bundy and his radical followers, without delving into what most Westerners actually think. Growing up in Utah, I heard the arguments from both sides. Most do not disagree with protecting land but DNF at page 89 (plus some skipping around). Just too much travelogue and not enough public land information. Kenyon, a hunter and outdoor enthusiast from Michigan, argues in support of federally-owned ("public") lands. Unfortunately, he seems to lump anyone who doesn't espouse his view in with Cliven Bundy and his radical followers, without delving into what most Westerners actually think. Growing up in Utah, I heard the arguments from both sides. Most do not disagree with protecting land but are resentful of Eastern politicians locking up Western land simply for environmental/political points (Obama) or to enhance their "legacy" (Clinton). Pronouncements are never made with local input, but are done by political expediency. And Kenyon seems oblivious to the troubles such land designations cause for those who live there - such as the crowds, litter, and noise he complains about on his brief trip to Moab, UT (not to mention that few tourism jobs pay well, or that Nat'l Parks are woefully underfunded). Instead we read pages and pages of his driving (where he can't get a spot in crowded campgrounds) and trying to figure out how to dump the sewage from his camper/trailer. For the most part I agree with his view of the value of public lands, but the lack of balance and excess of travelogue was just disappointing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Blacker

    I’m a kindred soul when it comes to protecting and enjoying our public lands. Mark Kenyon - a fellow Michigander - alternated between visiting wild places and telling the story of how these lands were protected in the first place, as well as what we need to do to keep them safe and unspoiled. Wonderful book, I highly recommend it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    An informative and soul-grabbing account of our public land I love the outdoors; but wouldn’t have called myself a conservationist before, but I am now. The author has grabbed and pulled me into his cause. The history of the fight is interesting, and the on-going battle is so important. I am in!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Rolnick

    Save our public lands! An important, well researched and well written book. I am hoping millions will take up the call to action and continue the fight for our wild public spaces.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Schuyler Wallace

    I suspect that when Mark Kenyon began writing his ode to the great outdoors, “That Wild Country,” he expected to arouse controversy. He did. Those who abhor hunting and fishing or the effort required to enjoy rugged outdoors activity, and dedicated, sometimes pompous, vegans, pooled their self-serving mini-minds to excoriate him for being a meat eater and a hunter. They claim he “hypocritically” writes praise for both the beautiful country and the animals he loves. Can there not be a passion I suspect that when Mark Kenyon began writing his ode to the great outdoors, “That Wild Country,” he expected to arouse controversy. He did. Those who abhor hunting and fishing or the effort required to enjoy rugged outdoors activity, and dedicated, sometimes pompous, vegans, pooled their self-serving mini-minds to excoriate him for being a meat eater and a hunter. They claim he “hypocritically” writes praise for both the beautiful country and the animals he loves. Can there not be a passion that goes both ways? When I read his book and basked in the glorious accounts of his outdoors adventures, some of which involve hunting, fishing, back packing, or simply enjoying nature’s glorious countenance, I saw neither lecherous nor unbridled passion as he shoots an animal for sustenance or hooks a glorious fish that, in most cases, he releases. Having been a hunter and fisherman all my life, I have reached the point of being slightly uncomfortable with the idea of killing something that lives and breathes in the wilderness, of eliminating a beautiful creature. But I understand the passion behind the process and, as long as it isn’t wanton and wasteful, I can live with it. And I sense the same reservations in Kenyon’s devotion, making me a believer and respecter of his position. Now, let’s talk about the book. It’s a marvelous examination of our protected wild spaces, both their existence and their formation. His examination of the lands that are threatened by private interests is thorough, interesting, and revelatory. Much of the positive political activity he talks about has gone unnoticed. He is quick to point out both violations and support for the protections put in place by past activists, including those of some Presidents of the United States. He talks about past and present dissenters to the safeguarding of property, pointing out their ragged excuses for objection, most of which are centered on self-interest. He also takes the opportunity to discuss his own rambles into the wilderness as he enjoys the quiet, the suspense, the beauty, the discomfort and the climate extremes. When recalled by old, crippled up outdoor enthusiasts such as myself, they provoke a shiver of past excitement and well-being. I’ve seldom enjoyed such glorious descriptions of personal experiences. His melding of experiential and historical events removes the dust from the historical aspects and gives them revitalization. You must read this book for the history and descriptive accounts of venturing into, delighting in, and protecting the wild. Thank you, Mark Kenyon, for the glorious opportunity to stay comfortably settled in my recliner as I relive my past. I appreciate the preservation efforts.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This book is a hopeful and despairing book. It combinesmarks own journeys through America's public land with the history and current story of how we came to have these public lands and how they are currently being threatened. Mark is able to make the reader experience these places through his description and narration of his own travels. Mark uses public lands as places to camp, hike, hunt, fish, and find solace. For much of the nineteenth century, American policy was to turn public land into This book is a hopeful and despairing book. It combinesmarks own journeys through America's public land with the history and current story of how we came to have these public lands and how they are currently being threatened. Mark is able to make the reader experience these places through his description and narration of his own travels. Mark uses public lands as places to camp, hike, hunt, fish, and find solace. For much of the nineteenth century, American policy was to turn public land into private land such as land grants to soldiers, the homestead act, and land provided for railroads. By the last part of the nineteenth century their began to be a widespread realization that certain landscapes needed to be preserved and to belong to all Americans. Mark details the significant impact of distinct individuals: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Gifford Pinochet, Aldo Leopold, Franklin Roosevelt. Stewart Udall and others. He also details the persistent push back from industry and state government and ways those challenges were successfully surmounted. He explains how the current Republican party has embraced and pushed the anti-public land position. He shows the ways groups with quite diverse values and stakes in public lands have joined together to protect our public lands and help keep the focus on providing continuing support as this administration and Western States continue to threaten public lands in new and unexpected ways. Eternal vigilance is necessary to be sure public lands remain for future generations.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gopal Sadagopal

    Author Kenyon, a hunter, hiker and an outdoorsman chronicles the the public and preservation movement in the US over the last two centuries. He beautifully weaves personal trips into the wilderness, historical trips that inspired others and current movements that shape the policies of the day. He points out the dangers posed to the public lands and stresses the need to protect the public land that is owned by ALL OF US.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aidan Pretti

    A great read providing personal narratives about Kenyon’s own experiences in nature intertwined with a history of the fight for public lands from Teddy Roosevelt to the Bundy Standoff and present day. A great reminder that it is a constant battle to hold back the tide encroaching on our public lands, but one entirely worth fighting.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Good stories, lots of history and background that explains the current state, or plight, of public lands. As a full-time RVer who mainly boondocks (dispersed camping without hookups) on federal public land in the West, I found it a good, easy read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    Thanks to my sister for gifting this book to me! Very good history and description of wilderness and national parks worth fighting for.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Reagan Haas

    “They say that hunters and tree huggers can’t get together...That’s bullshit. The only way we’re going to get anything done is to work together.” -Yvon Chouinard

  18. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Nelson

    Inspired The ability to describe and connect me to these wild and wonderful places makes me want to pack up and go. It reminded me of my own adventures, the calm and contentment the self efficiency the wonder and awe inspired by the wild beauty the feeling of responsibility to "leave only footprints behind" the feeling of accomplishment arriving exhausted and sore to my next destination . The lessons learned on the trail have helped me in so many aspects of my life. Even more importantly however Inspired The ability to describe and connect me to these wild and wonderful places makes me want to pack up and go. It reminded me of my own adventures, the calm and contentment the self efficiency the wonder and awe inspired by the wild beauty the feeling of responsibility to "leave only footprints behind" the feeling of accomplishment arriving exhausted and sore to my next destination . The lessons learned on the trail have helped me in so many aspects of my life. Even more importantly however is my responsibility to join my voice and effort in ensuring that our public places remain intact untouched unmolested so that every one now and forever have them to enjoy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Whistlers Mom

    The fight to save the wild places has been a wild ride, and it's not over yet! In the "Friendly Persuasion," there's a touching scene where the ageing Quaker farmer looks around at his Indiana farm, his children and grandchildren, and asks his wife in bewilderment, "How did it all happen, Eliza? How did we all get here?" It's a question every thoughtful person asks sooner or later. For this author - a Michigan native, a Google-employee-turned-outdoor-writer, and an active hiker, fisherman, and The fight to save the wild places has been a wild ride, and it's not over yet! In the "Friendly Persuasion," there's a touching scene where the ageing Quaker farmer looks around at his Indiana farm, his children and grandchildren, and asks his wife in bewilderment, "How did it all happen, Eliza? How did we all get here?" It's a question every thoughtful person asks sooner or later. For this author - a Michigan native, a Google-employee-turned-outdoor-writer, and an active hiker, fisherman, and hunter all his life - it came when he thought of the vast undeveloped lands owned by the U.S. government and enjoyed by millions of people every year. An amazing 640 MILLION acres of land in the U.S. is publicly owned. That's 28% of our country's land and Americans flock to those public parks and forests. Every year, 588 MILLION Americans visit national parks, national forests, BLM lands, and national wildlife refuges. Almost one TRILLION dollars is spent every year on outdoor recreation, which creates millions of jobs. But where did it all come from? This fascinating book traces the movement to preserve wild lands and wildlife from its beginnings in the 19th century to the present-day stormy political scene. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the only problem seemed to be disposing of all that land west of the Mississippi. The Homestead Act gave land to anyone who'd settle on it. Huge tracts were given to railroad, mining, and timber companies. Civil War soldiers were given land instead of paychecks. One billion acres quickly passed from public to private ownership. Even then, some voices were raised to protect the wild lands in the American West. In 1964, President Lincoln signed the bill creating Yellowstone National Park. Surprisingly, the railroad companies promoted the bill and even donated land in the interests of creating tourist attractions along their lines, thus gaining paying customers. Conservationists and business interests pulled together on that one, but it was never as simple again. The American West found a energetic promoter in the person of Theodore Roosevelt. An Eastern Establishment type and a Republican, he fell in love with the West and fought to preserve the undeveloped land and its wildlife. Backed by his powerful friends in the Boone & Crockett Club, he fought for stricter game laws and laws slowing deforestation. They achieved the Forest Reserve Act of 1891, still considered one of the most important pieces of conservation legislation. As President, Roosevelt turned the U.S. Forest Service into a force for forest protection and used his executive power to create the Grand Canyon National Park over the shrill opposition of the governor of Arizona. Western business interests called him a "Judas" and accused him of socialism, launching a huge, expensive smear campaign against him. Teddy stood firm, but in the end, he was forced out of the Republican party. WWII, the lawlessness of the Roaring Twenties, and the start of the Great Depression meant environmental protections eroded during what the author calls "an era ruled by greed and fear." Then another Roosevelt (Franklin D.) combined his plans to combat the Depression by creating employment with a new wave of conservation. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the country's most visited park) was created and the Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs for thousands of unemployed men and improved both new and existing parks. Like his cousin, he faced smear campaigns by business interests and charges of being a land-grabbing socialist. And like Teddy Roosevelt, he went right on doing what he believed was right. WWII and the post-war economic boom brought new challenges for conservationists. Public lands were given away to developers. Pollution increased as new chemicals became available and America's national symbol - the Golden Eagle - almost became extinct. Finally, there was a backlash and the 1960's and 1970's were a golden period for conservationism. What's interesting is how often the movement was bi-partisan. President Richard Nixon has received little credit (and none from this author!), but the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were passed during his administration, along with a number of other important conservation bills. Not only was conservation a bi-partisan effort then, but conservationists, business interests, and land users cooperated. The Pittman-Robertson Act taxed guns and ammunition (and even bows and arrows) to fund wildlife preserves. In 1950, the similar Dingell-Johnson Act taxed sport fishing equipment and boats. Both bills were passed with the full cooperation of hunters and fishermen and have generated billions of dollars in revenue. Today, they provide 80% of the funding for state wildlife preserves. When did it change? When Ronald Reagan ran for president and declared himself a "Sagebrush Rebel." The Sagebrush Rebellion is a movement of Westerners who resent laws created by the federal government. It started with people like the Clive Bundy family who illegally grazed cattle on public land for decades. When the BLM tried to stop them, they called for an armed rebellion against the federal government. It's a complicated issue and I think the author tries to be fair to both sides. The then-governor of Colorado Richard Lamm, summed up the difficulty of characterizing the movement and its adherents, "Only one certainty exists - that the Stagebrush is a revolt against federal authority, and at the taproot grows deep in the country's history. Beyond that, it is incoherent. Part hypocrisy, part demagoguery, partly the honest anger of honest people, it is a movement of confusion and hysteria and terrifyingly destructive potential." When the Bundy family took over federal facility and held it by armed force, resulting in one death, the nation learned just HOW destructive the movement could be. Now "conservation" (like "climate change") is a dirty word for the Republican Party and the party's "plank" states firmly that the party supports the "land-transfer movement" which sells public lands to developers, timber companies, and mining interests. Leaving conservative-leaning conservationists like the author of this book out in the cold. Every Republican administration since Reagan's has followed the "death by a thousand cuts" policy of selling lands and cutting funding for conservation programs. Then Democratic administrations do what they can to reverse the damage. Is this the best we can do? To some extent, this is an "Easterner against Westerner" conflict, since the great majority of public land lies west of the Mississippi River. But we Easterners are bleeding, too. FDR created the Tennessee Valley Authority to dam rivers, control flooding, produce electricity, and create recreational lakes. The land was taken from private owners and the promise was made that it would always be public land. Now politicians are finding loop-holes to sell that land to developers. "Let's get it back on the tax rolls" is their cry, politely ignoring the inevitable tax breaks given to large developers. Working together for conservation requires compromise and that's something Americans aren't good at. Can tree-hugging vegans partner with hunters and fishermen? Can purists who want NO "improvements" in parks find common ground with those who want to build roads and pave paths so that the disabled or elderly can enjoy them, too? Can people in the rural West be brought into the process and made to feel that they have a voice? Or will we continue our current practice of see-sawing back-and-forth? Don't be discouraged from reading this book because it has a political message. That's less than 20% of the total narrative. The bulk of the book is wonderful descriptions of the author's experiences in wild places. Childhood trips to the Adirondack Mountains. Hikes in the Michigan woods with boyhood friends. Travels out west with college friends, exploring territory so wild and rugged it took their breath away in more ways than one! Camping trips with his wife, a VERY good sport. Buffalo are majestic creatures and we all want to preserve them, but a 2,000 lb behemoth scratching his back on your tent poles is another matter. Preserving habitat for grizzly bears is something most of us can agree on, but those suckers WILL kill and eat you under the right circumstances. Best of all was the wilderness hiking trip he and his sister took with their vision-impaired father. There are many ways that a family can enjoy each other, but a hike in the woods will teach you things about your loved ones that you never imagined. This is a great book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    This was hands-down one of the best books I read this entire year. Kenyon did an amazing job of defining the integral importance of public lands and how each and every American is impacted in both small and large ways by them. Framing his own amazing personal experiences and interactions with these public lands across the United States, he describes the historical backgrounds of each of these destinations as well. Through Kenyon's eyes we get to hear how his personal heroes have shaped the laws This was hands-down one of the best books I read this entire year. Kenyon did an amazing job of defining the integral importance of public lands and how each and every American is impacted in both small and large ways by them. Framing his own amazing personal experiences and interactions with these public lands across the United States, he describes the historical backgrounds of each of these destinations as well. Through Kenyon's eyes we get to hear how his personal heroes have shaped the laws and policies that govern what we know today as public lands. We also get to understand what public lands are capable of, and how each and every single person can together agree on the simple fact that public lands (whatever purpose we use them for) are so incredibly important to American well-being. He also outlines the importance of balance - we can't just have individuals claiming resources, or individuals using it just for recreational purposes. There needs to be a beautiful balance. But Kenyon argues that this shouldn't be based on your political views, but more your own personal values alongside being able to access the kind of opportunities we all deserve to live the fullest life possible by our own definition. I feel inspired having read this. I feel inspired to go outside, go out on a hike, and be a part of these public lands that so many historical figures have fought to endow to generations to come. I also feel inspired to start the fight as well... Public lands belong to everyone. If it's any consolation, I truly never write full reviews of novels I read. But this one.... This one deserved it. Kenyon is a fighter, an advocate, and a hero of this generation by standing up for what he believes in and being will to say the hard things not for his own benefit but for the benefit of us all - because what he argues is the right thing. 10/10 would recommend to anyone.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chunyang Ding

    I felt pretty conflicted about That Wild Country - Mark Kenyon writes quite a well researched book on land conservation and public land use in the United States, and as an avid adventurer, he definitely brings in a lot of the personal flair that is emblematic of the "wilderness book" genre. Like Abbey and Egan, Kenyon really draws on his personal experience from hiking through these public lands to sell his argument about conservation. But some aspects of his argument seem raw. In particular, he I felt pretty conflicted about That Wild Country - Mark Kenyon writes quite a well researched book on land conservation and public land use in the United States, and as an avid adventurer, he definitely brings in a lot of the personal flair that is emblematic of the "wilderness book" genre. Like Abbey and Egan, Kenyon really draws on his personal experience from hiking through these public lands to sell his argument about conservation. But some aspects of his argument seem raw. In particular, he commentated on how his friend Tran, who was not a big outdoorsy person, seemed to enjoy the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail. In that chapter, he seems like the disparaging tour guide, patiently showing nature to those who are too ignorant to appreciate life outside of the regular comforts, and begrudgingly accepts the loud sounds of the teenagers who are camping nearby. Sadly, this seems like a fairly recurring theme in this genre of literature, but I really think it skims over the issues that govern who is really able to enjoy these lands. Kenyon does make a serious effort to extend the tent of public land ownership to as many different groups as possible, and I do applaud that. But the privilege of being able to take time off of work/school to go hiking, or to have equipment that is suitable for such a hike, or, perhaps most importantly, the knowledge and training that comes from growing up in a culture of celebrating such an activity, really does set apart who can really take advantage of this gift. In spite of that oversight, I found the book to be thoroughly enjoyable. It does make me want to go and enjoy these public lands more, while I still can.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ursula Johnson

    A Hunter & Outdoor Lovers Journal, & Part Bio This book was not what I expected. I thought it would be a bio of some major public lands. Instead, it's a part biography and more of a record of the authors outdoor excursions. The point is supposed to be how anyone can enjoy public lands and conservation. It doesn't really work since hunting and conservation don't necessarily go hand in hand. Several of the places he visited I'd never heard of. It wasn't always mentioned where they actually A Hunter & Outdoor Lovers Journal, & Part Bio This book was not what I expected. I thought it would be a bio of some major public lands. Instead, it's a part biography and more of a record of the authors outdoor excursions. The point is supposed to be how anyone can enjoy public lands and conservation. It doesn't really work since hunting and conservation don't necessarily go hand in hand. Several of the places he visited I'd never heard of. It wasn't always mentioned where they actually are. Numerous, tedious descriptions of hiking and camping trips and you can't mention where it's located? A mistake to not include. As someone who doesn't hike, camp or backpack this book isn't going to make me start. The first thing that should be mentioned is that you can die out in the boonies. A number of people have this year. There is also the issue of how many people go missing in National Parks and wilderness areas. Missing 411 is a must read for outdoor lovers. It's also fun and games unless a cryptid shows up, which is happening more often now. I've read numerous accounts of how many people lived the outdoors until their not always pleasant experience. I struggled through this, even listening to the audiobook narrated by the author. That is not always a good idea. Sorry, but everyone is not going to want to go out in the boonies. The public lands may supposedly be owned by all, but not all are going to risk their lives to use them.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zhelana

    I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I just couldn't. Mark Kenyon sets out to visit all of our National Parks and write a history of the National Park System as well as part memoir or travel log. Unfortunately, all of the national parks he talks about sort of become one thing - a fishing trip with bears - and they all sort of sound like the same place. Even the geysers that are unique to Yellowstone he just passes over and hardly mentions. So over and over again he goes into nature I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I just couldn't. Mark Kenyon sets out to visit all of our National Parks and write a history of the National Park System as well as part memoir or travel log. Unfortunately, all of the national parks he talks about sort of become one thing - a fishing trip with bears - and they all sort of sound like the same place. Even the geysers that are unique to Yellowstone he just passes over and hardly mentions. So over and over again he goes into nature taking too many pounds of gear, gets startled by a bear and scares it off by yelling "hey bear!" and then goes fishing. The primary difference between the different national parks seems to be how much the fish bite there, and I really don't care how much the fish bite. Furthermore, sometimes he takes his wife with him, and then she spends her time setting up camp and cooking for him while he spends his time fishing. What a sexist sack of shit. But really the big problem with it was that the national parks didn't seem distinct from one another, and really I would have been more interested in some of the touristy things to do at each one than fishing and scaring off bears. I admire him for this effort though, as, as he says, republicans are getting a little too fond of trying to privatize our public lands, and they are our heritage.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    A difficult read Jumps around through about ten years of his visits to public lands and about 150 years of history. While going over the author's take on public land use (about the 15th time) it occurred to me that there is an inherent unfairness in expecting Utah, Nevada, Alaska, etc to give up 50 percent or more of their land over to Federal control while states like New York, Connecticut, Iowa do not even come close to the six percent average of public land. It's hard to believe that there's A difficult read Jumps around through about ten years of his visits to public lands and about 150 years of history. While going over the author's take on public land use (about the 15th time) it occurred to me that there is an inherent unfairness in expecting Utah, Nevada, Alaska, etc to give up 50 percent or more of their land over to Federal control while states like New York, Connecticut, Iowa do not even come close to the six percent average of public land. It's hard to believe that there's absolutely nothing worth seeing there, or preserving, or that people in those states would not benefit from public use lands. Opening public National Parks in those areas might also help with the inequity of calling "public land" kept for privileged people to have their hunting/ hiking/camping adventures while poorer people who cannot afford travel receive no benefit from these lands. As a person with mobility issues, I will only ever be able to access National Parks, Monuments, forest land etc in the small areas made handicap accessible - so I am one of the 95 percent the author says never leave the roads of a park. Never read it sneered at before and it was off-putting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christopher May

    A look at the history and the current state of America's public lands from completely unknown BLM lands to the most known National Parks. Kenyon weaves in his own experiences in these places while discussing where they came from, how they're managed, threats they've face in the past and are facing again and the leading figures who have been advocates and detractors of them. There's a lot of good information here and the book was an enjoyable read. I feel like it only scratched the surface of A look at the history and the current state of America's public lands from completely unknown BLM lands to the most known National Parks. Kenyon weaves in his own experiences in these places while discussing where they came from, how they're managed, threats they've face in the past and are facing again and the leading figures who have been advocates and detractors of them. There's a lot of good information here and the book was an enjoyable read. I feel like it only scratched the surface of what's available, though. This is one of those books that I'll be digging into the bibliography of to seek out more information. Kenyon does a good job of weaving the past and the present together with his journeys. He also caused me to pull out my atlas more than once when he referenced places that I didn't know existed but that I now want to visit. The US is blessed with some truly magic places and this book makes me both want to see them for myself and make sure that I'm doing my part to ensure that they remain protected and available for us all to use. We are the owners, after all. Recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    Clear and concise up to the moment history and defense of public lands in the US by a hunter/fisherman/environmentalist. The author recognizes the ongoing war against our public lands by a small number of representatives of private extractive industries. "...ceding wild places to industry would strip America of its natural resources, and leave it a shell of a country, no longer self-sufficient and prosperous." The author tacks back and forth between his own adventures and explorations of public Clear and concise up to the moment history and defense of public lands in the US by a hunter/fisherman/environmentalist. The author recognizes the ongoing war against our public lands by a small number of representatives of private extractive industries. "...ceding wild places to industry would strip America of its natural resources, and leave it a shell of a country, no longer self-sufficient and prosperous." The author tacks back and forth between his own adventures and explorations of public lands and well-researched historical narrative. This is the clearest explanation I have read of the history of our public lands and land management agencies, the past and current threats to them, and both sides of the argument about their future. You might expect this topic to be dry, but not here. It's just clear and well-reasoned, concise, and even entertaining at times. Highly recommended reading for those on all positions on the political spectrum.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    As a result of being both an informative book on the history of public lands and a personal travelogue, this book felt excessively long. The constant switching between the two meant the stories were told side by side, and I'm not sure how else you would do this, but it felt a bit jarring at times. Just as I got invested in some RV hijinks, it'd switch back to history. Then just as I got invested in hearing about how this beautiful public lands have been politicized, back to anecdotes about a As a result of being both an informative book on the history of public lands and a personal travelogue, this book felt excessively long. The constant switching between the two meant the stories were told side by side, and I'm not sure how else you would do this, but it felt a bit jarring at times. Just as I got invested in some RV hijinks, it'd switch back to history. Then just as I got invested in hearing about how this beautiful public lands have been politicized, back to anecdotes about a slow morning sipping coffee. Cut the whole thing in half and it would have been a lot more appealing. As far as the content goes, it made me want to get out and see more of what my country has to offer and appreciate all the effort put in over the last 100+ years to preserve these lands, so the author ultimately achieved his goal.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael McCue

    That Wild Country is Mark Kenyon's first full length book. He has written about outdoor sports and public lands and conservation issues in several magazines and maintains an internet presence. When Kenyon realized that the public lands he loved were under assault from various fronts he set out to visit as many sites as he could while researching the history of anti-public land elements going back to the industrialist who opposed the establishment of the first national parks and on the the That Wild Country is Mark Kenyon's first full length book. He has written about outdoor sports and public lands and conservation issues in several magazines and maintains an internet presence. When Kenyon realized that the public lands he loved were under assault from various fronts he set out to visit as many sites as he could while researching the history of anti-public land elements going back to the industrialist who opposed the establishment of the first national parks and on the the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s and the current Presidents revoking of National Monument established by earlier Presidents. His descriptions of camping, hiking, fishing and hunting trips in public lands all over the country were entertaining and made me want to go to all those places too. His outline of the history of anti-public lands movements were infuriating.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sunhawk

    A classic I-search book: the author recounts his own experiences exploring the government holdings, mostly BLM lands, that are "below the notice" of most citified National Park buffs, interwoven with his thoughts, based on a lot of little known history, on how these lands are managed, and mismanaged. With the barbarians beating on the door of these lands, and the need to further despoil nature in order to keep on doing what we keep on doing -- fossil fuels at any cost, faster, more thorough A classic I-search book: the author recounts his own experiences exploring the government holdings, mostly BLM lands, that are "below the notice" of most citified National Park buffs, interwoven with his thoughts, based on a lot of little known history, on how these lands are managed, and mismanaged. With the barbarians beating on the door of these lands, and the need to further despoil nature in order to keep on doing what we keep on doing -- fossil fuels at any cost, faster, more thorough rapine of natural resources without consideration for other species -- this is a timely book. In sum, I felt it was a hopeful book. The political winds may temporarily be against conservation, but there's a strong force of dedicated professionals tending these lands, and conservation groups aren't sleeping.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    That Wild Country is a good book which focuses on the history of the struggles to save the America wilderness for the general public. From the mid 1800s, there have been individuals and industries which work to control the great open spaces for their own benefit and wealth, and there have also been individuals working to save these areas for the next generation. It made me understand that we are only continuing this struggle today. Kenyon talks about the historic conservation "greats" such as That Wild Country is a good book which focuses on the history of the struggles to save the America wilderness for the general public. From the mid 1800s, there have been individuals and industries which work to control the great open spaces for their own benefit and wealth, and there have also been individuals working to save these areas for the next generation. It made me understand that we are only continuing this struggle today. Kenyon talks about the historic conservation "greats" such as John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, and Bob Marshall. Kenyon also talks about the many users of public lands and their passions for these beautiful places. We all need to understand that our use may not be the only use but that we are all joined by our love of this land. Good book for tough times.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.