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American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (Library of America #182)

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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  246 ratings  ·  33 reviews
As America and the world grapple with the consequences of global environmental change, writer and activist Bill McKibben offers this unprecedented, provocative, and timely anthology, gathering the best and most significant American environmental writing from the last two centuries.

Classics of the environmental imagination—the essays of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and...more
Hardcover, 1047 pages
Published April 17th 2008 by Library of America (first published January 1st 2008)
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Silent Spring by Rachel CarsonA Sand County Almanac with Other Essays on Conservation from ... by Aldo LeopoldThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanThe Lorax by Dr. SeussDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Environmental Books
62nd out of 505 books — 572 voters
A Sand County Almanac with Other Essays on Conservation from ... by Aldo LeopoldWalden by Henry David ThoreauA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonSilent Spring by Rachel CarsonPilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Best Nature Books
81st out of 351 books — 242 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 869)
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Ken-ichi
Took me over a year, but I finally finished reading this tome, squeezing in a few pages here and there between other books, and it was well, well worth it. McKibben has assembled a fantastic list of writers, from those I'd read (Thoreau, Muir, Carson, Dillard, Pollan) to those I've been meaning to read (Aldo Leopold, Jane Jacobs, Edward Abbey) to those I'd never heard of (Barry Lopez, David Abram) and all the way to the completely unexpected (P.T. Barnum, R. Crumb, Philip K Dick). There were so...more
Bidisha Banerjee
Wonderful essay in American Earth, Jack Turner's "The Song of the White Pelican" quotes Dogen:

"That the self advances and confirms the ten thousand things is called delusion;
That the ten thousand things advance and confirm the self is called enlightenment."

Turner says that the Japanese word translated as 'enlightenment' can also be translated as intimacy, and he goes to describe the elusive sounds of white pelicans soaring amongst thunderheads in Yellowstone.

He writes, "I believe the clacking i...more
Rose Murray
Jul 24, 2008 Rose Murray added it
Recommends it for: everyone
Fantastic! I can't say I've actually read it from front to back, because the short time allowed from the library to actually read it is insufficient. But, one of the best compilations of this sort I've read or even seen. It's all there! Definately a permanent collection book.
Linda
American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, edited by Bill McKibben, with a foreword by Al Gore, is a hefty tome published in 2008. The book of over a 1,000 pages covers a period of more than 150 years and includes writing by famous and not so famous people on a wide variety of environmental related topics.

The Bottom Line

Mr. McKibben is a well known and respected environmentalist, writer, activist, and the co-founder of 350.org. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College in Verm...more
Elle
In these pages, you will find a veritable who's who of nature writers, and a dim sum of their writing. Sometimes the nibble may prove too small for you to really have a taste of how they see the world, or it may prove enough for you to decide if you want to explore the author or their sampled work further. Even so, the reader of the whole anthology will come away with a good sense of the conservation and preservation debates in the various shades or labels without getting bogged down in those la...more
Leonard
Excellent 1,000 plus page collection of the best environmental writing, compiled by one of the finest and most prolific current environmental writers. This volume includes well known writers like Abbey, Leopold, and Kingsolver, as well as lesser known authors such as Robert Marshall, Jane Jacobs, and Rebecca Solnit. It includes the works of at least half a dozen poets, a couple ex-presidents, a former Supreme Court justice, a former governor, songwriters, photographers, and a cartoonist. I reall...more
Lois
The book jacket calls this anthology of environmental writing "unprecedented". My initial reaction was skepticism (there have been many anthologies of nature writing after all), but as I read I realized that the breadth of source material in this anthology really is remarkable. McKibben differentiates between nature writing and environmental writing, which is the focus of this book and which he defines as writing about "the collision between people and the rest of the world." Topics include city...more
Linette
May 03, 2011 Linette rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: my hippie friends :)
This is a WONDERFULLY thoughtful environmental compilation. I love Thoreau, which is why I chose this book. I am skipping around since this book is 974 pages of text before the index, chronology, and forwards! I skipped George Catlin and P.T. Barnum; but recommend everyone give "The Last Passenger Pigeon" by Gene Stratton-Porter a chance.

I LOVE the excerpt from Blessed Unrest. It's fabulous! Check it out: http://www.blessedunrest.com/
Beau
An excellent collection of authors ranging from Henry David Thoreau to R. Crumb, each commenting on the howling (and reduced) landscape of the American Earth.
Foreword by Al Gore.

Very well Illustrated, with examples from A.B Durand, Ansel Adams, Vint Lawrence, Crumb & many other photo documents.

I am very fond of this book and recommend it to anyone interested in a condensed yet thorough survey of environmental writng.
Stacia
I'm really starting to feel bothered about the fact that "important" essays about nature usually dwell on how bad we're fucking it up, and not so much on just how awesome it is. I know that the first point is important, especially if the second one is going to stay true, but some of the pieces in this collection are real downers. More Mary Oliver, please! The collection is useful, though.
Matt Johnson
A fantastic collection of environmental writings ranging from Thoreau to Muir to McDonough. Includes fundamental pieces on environmental theory and environmental practice that are both eye-opening and inspiring. McKibben has assembled a collection of works that build upon one another and work very well as individual references as well as a whole.
Laurel Perez
This collection is not for the picky reader, it has some lovely little essays about nature, and how we neglect looking at it for what it is and how we destroy it unthinkingly everyday. There are some very dry pieces, interwoven with poignant little vignettes that are really worth sifting through this long collection for.
Stephanie
Have not read the entire thing, actually, but very many excerpts for my Environmental Literature class. This is powerful stuff, and all relevant to the Environmental concerns of today. It's a great way to get to know the history of Environmental Writing, from Thoreau to the present (just like the title says).
Tricia
This book is full of American environmental writing from Thoreau to present day writers - two centuries worth of inspiring writing. Many familiar names and several I had never heard of. This is a great reference book as well as a history of the environmental movement in the United States.
A wealth of information.
Elizabeth
Fantastic overview of American environmental writing. I really enjoyed it, but it is very long and certainly couldn't be considered a fast read. There's a mixture of fiction and nonfiction excerpts and essays, and while I didn't enjoy absolutely every piece in the book, the overall effect is really good.
Jessica
Is there anything more American than compiling an anthology of eco-literature that manages to be light on the literature and heavy on the paper wasting? Do yourself, your wallet,and the environment a favor - borrow or buy used the books compiled in this anthology in the original.
Becky
Nov 04, 2008 Becky marked it as to-read
Shelves: science
I've just delved into the introduction of this massive anthology, and in contrast to my first thought to pick and choose which selections I read, I think I'll be reading the entire thing. I'll just have to recheck this and try to read fast.
Jennifer
I enjoyed this book but probably would have gotten more out of it if read over a longer period of time instead of the time alloted by the library! Full of things to make you think and a good introduction to many writers who were new to me.
D1wata
Good nibbling. Loved all the readings, and so satisfying. I'd consider buying this book to read it more throughly. It'd be great for a backpacking trip if it weren't so huge. Good for car camping though.

Jessica
A wonderful collection; especially helpful as an environmental studies student. Great selection of classic environmental writing, as well as some more contemporary works. Always keep it handy.
Todd Mayville
Excellent collection of American environmental writing. My full review: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2008/1...
Wayne Stone
great short stories annie dillard, aldo leopold, paul ehrlich, garrett hardin, wendell berry, and stephanie mills. covers a lot of topics concerned with environmentalism.
Christie
Apr 11, 2014 Christie added it
Shelves: 2011
I must buy this. Read through some of it this weekend and it was so great I was ignoring the social situation I was in. It's pretty much 345% Christie.
M. Bower
A very comprehensive anthology. Contains some great material from activists and artists that usually falls outside of the academic pool.
Jill
Impressive collection. Extensive span of time and topic.

The sampling here proves to be a good jumping-off-point for further reading.
Jayme
Tons of great environmental excerpts, essays, poems and even songs. This book made my reading list considerably longer.
Mike Kruse
Plenty of good stuff here. Too much, almost. I checked it out of my local public library and will do so again another time.
Andrew Simpson
Pretty awesome collection of basically tons of environmental writing.
Whitney
Took me a looong time to finally get through all the essays - but so worth it!
Jen
Research to write a wedding ceremony for the Rocky Mountains
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Bill McKibben is the author of Eaarth, The End of Nature, Deep Economy, Enough, Fight Global Warming Now, The Bill McKibben Reader, and numerous other books. He is the founder of the environmental organizations Step It Up and 350.org, and was among the first to warn of the dangers of global warming. In 2010 The Boston Globe called him "probably the nation's leading environmentalist," and Time maga...more
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