5th out of 32 books — 9 voters
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Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature
In a lead essay that powerfully states the broad argument of the book, William Cronon writes that the environmentalist goal of wilderness preservation is conceptually and politically wrongheaded. Among the ironies and entanglements resulting from this goal are the sale of nature in our malls through the Nature Company, and the disputes between working people and environmen ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published October 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company
(first published 1995)
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Collection of great essays on "nature" by folks representing a diverse array of disciplines: plant biology, history, landscape architecture, culture and communications, feminist theory, literature, geography, etc. The "nature" the essayists address includes everything from the well-managed tourist-oriented wilderness (e.g., Yosemite, Mt. Rushmore); commercial nature (The Nature Company); landscape architecture (Frederick Law Olmsted); Amazonia; the very pricey real estate along the cliffs of sou ...more
In 1995 Cronon edited a collected series of essays published under the title Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, which strongly criticized the Environmental Movement for aspects of its worldview drawn from a misplaced emphasis on Nature as something set apart from society. “The work of literary scholars, anthropologists, cultural historians, and critical theorists over the past several decades has yielded abundant evidence,” Cronon noted, “that ‘nature’ is not nearly so natura ...more
Thought-provoking set of essays by great thinkers, including William Cronon as the editor. Cronon was writing and innovating in American environmental history before folks like Jared Diamond entered the scene and (in my opinion) repackaged some of the thinking of writers like Cronon and Crosby in a way that reached the masses. But Cronon was trying to reinsert the environment in our understanding of history long before it was a popular theme -- he was booed off of academic stages before his idea ...more
Nov 20, 2008 Anjuli rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nature lovers and historians.
Recommended to Anjuli by: Reiko Hillyer
Cronon promotes a nuanced understanding of historical environmentalism and how it has influenced the movement today. After reading this book, I felt less guilty as a human in nature and ready to redefine my place as part of an ecosystem.
A series of essays that provide a well rounded assessment of how humans interact with nature. Environmentalists often perceive their view of nature and "preservation" as morally superior to other uses and needs that we rely upon from Mother Nature. One particular essay, titled, "Are you and environmentalist or do you work for a living" gets at the crux of this issue of how we can sustainably grow and develop societally and enhance our valuation and care for our environment.
The first third of this book excited me with poignant questions and observations. The middle third fell flat and the last third was an absolute struggle to get through. The first third is entirely worth it though and just pick those essays you want to read from the rest. Nature continues to be more culture than we acknowledge or discuss even though almost two decades have passed since this book was complied.
Really good book, full of fascinating stuff. The essay about Simulation alone will blow your mind, and once you throw in all the other stuff, you're going to be sucking up your brain drippings with a wet-vac. But, seriously, this book lays down an expansive challenge to what we think of as "natural" and how we consider our "stewardship" of the planet.