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Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  128 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
In 1953, birding guru Roger Tory Peterson and noted British naturalist James Fisher set out on what became a legendary journey-a one hundred day trek over 30,000 miles around North America. They traveled from Newfoundland to Florida, deep into the heart of Mexico, through the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, and into Alaska's Pribilof Islands. Two years later, Wild Americ ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published November 9th 2005 by North Point Press
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Megan Hart
May 30, 2013 Megan Hart rated it really liked it
An excellent view of both the good and bad things that come with our natural areas. The author gives a realistic view to what we have done to the Earth, including ripping Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg a new one for their garish tourist attractions. He describes the natural beauty and the wonderful conservation efforts being implemented to save our wild heritage. He also gives a sobering view of what we have done to our natural lands since we first colonized this beautiful continent. If you want a ...more
Cheryl
Aug 02, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it
“Between 1982 and 1997, developed land in the forty-eight contiguous states increased by 25 million acres- meaning a quarter of all the open land lost since European settlement disappeared in just those 15 years."

I find facts like these mind numbing because I can’t visualize what it means. Okay, lots of development, nature paved over; but what does it actually mean? He writes, “ at this pace, by 2025 there will be 68 million more rural acres in development, an area about the size of Wyoming.” Wy
...more
Chris Leuchtenburg
Mar 01, 2013 Chris Leuchtenburg rated it liked it
Shelves: nature, travel
"There was life here still -- and with it, hope." (p.192) Maybe, but not much.

Weidensaul uses a trip following Peterson's famous cross country birding trip 50 years earlier to catalog the devastation that rapacious, greedy, numerous, or just plain heedless humans have wreaked on our beleaguered natural environment. He touches most of the sad stories: over hunting and fishing, water withdrawals, clear cuts of old growth forests, etc. Only occasionally, notably in the Pacific Northwest, does he a
...more
Nathan
Scott Weidensaul has never been on a par, in my mind, with other writers of his ilk: not as garrulous as David Quammen or as urgent as Rachel Carson or as hard-edged as Gordon Grice. This book is more of his usual: quiet musings on a beautiful but fragile world, punctuated by calm and reasoned pleas to preserve it; not, to be fair, a boring or worthless subject, but limp and insipid.

In the present book, Weidensaul retraces the journeys of an obscure pair of British nationalists to gain some pers
...more
Julia
Oct 25, 2011 Julia rated it really liked it
Recounting his journey retracing the 1950s footsteps of a pair of birders/naturalists who traveled around North America in search of its wild lands, Weidensaul has penned a quiet but fervent paen and plea: a paen to the wonderful wild lands that still exist, despite the odds, throughout North America, and a plea to protect and nurture those same lands. At times depressing from its contemplation of the damage we have done to the land and wildlife, the book still manages to maintain a muted ...more
Tim
Nov 30, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing
I am enjoying this book also. The previous book on Henrietta Lacks The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Covers some mid-century American history, and so does this book. Amazing are the amount of change that has occurred in the last 50-60 years. In the case of the previous book, patient rights, and healthcare in our culture. In this book, the dramatic changes in landscape, wilderness, and ecology, as well as the norms today versus then. How commonplace pollution was, and stripping the land of nat ...more
Jackie
Jan 17, 2009 Jackie rated it really liked it
Scott Weidensaul follows the 1953 legendary journey of Roger Tory Peterson and British naturalist, James Fisher, of 100 days and 30,000 miles across North America. He highlights differences observed, which tend to be a decline of habitat, etc. for wildlife of North America. I particularly appreciate the discussion on the water problems of the Klamath Basin. It is pointed out that the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the only national refuge jointly managed jointly by the U.S. Fish & ...more
Melody
Sep 15, 2007 Melody rated it liked it
Weidensaul retraces the original Wild America tour taken by Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher. Ultimately hopeful, with some white-knuckle parts about global warming and the changes that have come with human-introduced species. I've never read the original, so I don't know how this one compares. Weidensaul's a good writer and an amusing one, but one never loses sight of the fact that his overwhelming passion is birds.
Miranda
Mar 11, 2015 Miranda rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed how he related what he saw to Wild America, so that you don't have to read that one as well, unless you want to. The writing was also well done and you could almost imagine yourself being there as well. At times, it did leave me feeling disheartened, but overall, I enjoyed reading this book, and will probably be going back to it again.
David Mccarrick
Aug 31, 2016 David Mccarrick rated it really liked it
I think that this book was very interesting. I liked to read it when I was frustrated with schoolwork. Weidensaul produces a story with great imagery; I could smell the sea salt on the Aleutians. It also provided a very interesting historical perspective on what we've gained and what we've lost environmentally.
Raven
Feb 13, 2011 Raven rated it liked it
Shelves: college
It gives me hope that there are still bits of the wild being preserved in America. The traveling that needed to take place for this trip was a great opportunity and I would love to see a fraction of the places mentioned. I actually met the author and listened to a presentation and he is as candid in person and easy to listen to as the book was easy to read.
Melissa Berninger
Apr 24, 2016 Melissa Berninger rated it it was amazing
Shelves: birds-birding
This (along with the book that inspired it, Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher's Wild America) is one of the best books I've read in awhile--a hopeful yet sobering picture of conversation efforts in the face of overdevelopment and refusal to take climate change seriously.
Maryanne
Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul 00002007 Scott Weidensaul
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Vicki
Dec 28, 2014 Vicki added it
excellent adventure riding along with these two naturalists
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Born in 1959, Scott Weidensaul (pronounced "Why-densaul") has lived almost all of his life among the long ridges and endless valleys of eastern Pennsylvania, in the heart of the central Appalachians, a landscape that has defined much of his work.

His writing career began in 1978 with a weekly natural history column in the local newspaper, the Pottsville Republican in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania
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“It’s happening everywhere; commercial and housing development, along with the road network needed to support it, is the single greatest pressure on natural landscapes in the United States, and by its very pervasiveness the hardest to control. Between 1982 and 1997, developed land in the forty-eight contiguous states increased by 25 million acres—meaning a quarter of all the open land lost since European settlement disappeared in just those fifteen years. This isn’t a trend, it’s a juggernaut, and the worst may be yet to come. At this pace, by 2025 there will be 68 million more rural acres in development, an area about the size of Wyoming, and the total developed land in the United States will stand at a Texas-sized 174 million acres. Already, just the impervious covering we put on the land, the things like roads, sidewalks, and buildings we pave with asphalt or concrete, adds up to an area the size of Ohio.3” 0 likes
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