A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir

A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir by Donald Worster
After I watched The National Parks: America's Best Idea: by Ken Burns, I became very interested in the learning more about the life of John Muir, who was featured prominently in the series.

Also, for about 9 years, I lived only a stone's throw from John Muir's residence in Martinez, CA and passed his house on the way home from work.  I had an excellent view of Mt. Wanda from the cottage I was renting.   I didn't know until after I read this book that Wanda was the name of Muir's oldest daughter. In addition, one of my favorite places in the Bay Area is Muir Woods (I even have a framed poster in my dining room), but I really didn't know anything about the man or life of John Muir.

Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir - Glacier Point Yosemite (1906)

Donald Worster's book does an excellent job of chronicling John Muir's life from his Scottish roots in Dunbar and the influence on the Romantic Movement had on him via Robert Burns and William Wordsworth to his remarkable life in America.

Worster for example covers John Muir the engineer, who invented the alarm clock bed.  The contraption would throw Muir out of his bed every morning!  Muir could have easily ended up in manufacturing but one day he had an accident in Indiana which almost blinded him and during his recovery Muir decided that he would pursue his first love of botany and nature.

The rest is history. 

Muir was an environmental, conservation and scientific visionary who loved nature and all it's creatures and was very influential in creating national parks and Yosemite in particular.  Although he had many friends in high places, he was not an elitist and many friends from all walks of life. Muir was not very political and remained a pacifist throughout his life.

One thing that I thought was funny was that originally some Marxists proposed naming the General Grant Tree (the biggest tree by volume in the world) the Karl Marx tree.  Thank God that didn't happen or Joe McCarthy would have chopped it down in the 1950s!

I also really enjoyed the Alaskan story of John Muir and the dog Stickeen.

In short, I really enjoyed this book from start to finish and heartily recommend it for all those interested in Muir's life.

I now consider John Muir as a hero of mine and one of my favorite Americans up there with A. Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain.

Next I plan to read some of Muir's books.

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Internet Weekly Report First Issued on 12/15/2001,
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Last Updated Tuesday, 05. January 2010 07:49:52.

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