Fabulous book and great research. I liked the format with the biographical and historical information interspersed with the authors research in librarFabulous book and great research. I liked the format with the biographical and historical information interspersed with the authors research in libraries and archives, and shopping trips to adventure outfitters. How had I never heard of the Fawcett mystery until now? It seems like a story ripe for Hollywood or various adventure stories, so it is a wonder that it took this long to have some quality research on the topic (or have I just been ignorant of this?)
Interesting aside - as I was reading this, my husband is reading Candice Millard's *River of Doubt* about Roosevelt's travels in Amazon. It was intriguing to hear the Grann citing that book, and for my husband and I to discuss the two expeditions and how they differed. I look forward to reading that book soon to continue my own little obsession with rainforest adventure stories...
This book describes a very different Amazon than the one I encountered on my trip to Peru in 2007 - of course, I was not in the deepest darkest part of the forest, but we were "roughing it" by a lot of standards... I guess that is because over the last century there have been significant strides in public health and sanitation, disease prevention, and research on tropical climes... even in the author's travels in 2006 and 2007, he describes a very different Brazilian rainforest than Fawcett encountered 80 years prior. This alone causes some concern that things can change so significantly in the relatively short span of years......more
Compelling story about the "Big Burn" fire in the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains in Western Montana and the Idaho panhandle. The fire itselfCompelling story about the "Big Burn" fire in the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains in Western Montana and the Idaho panhandle. The fire itself was the catalyst and early justification - albeit a tragic and land-altering one - for the need for a national Forest Service. The book itself tells of the early conservationist "triumvirate" of Gifford Pinchot (the first chief of the Forest Service) and his more famous partners, Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir. While Pinchot and Muir differed philosophically later in life, they both understood the importance of setting aside the great forests of the United States FOR the people. Teddy Roosevelt, ever the politician but also one with a true heart for the land, made this a reality in his presidency.
The fire itself occurred after Roosevelt's presidency in 1910, when the Forest Service was constantly berated and denigrated for the work that they did in the forests, and on the national stage in Congress. Well before conservation thought was part of our national ethos, the wilderness was seen as dark, sinful, and in need of industry and development - it was believed to be God's work (along with manifest destiny) to plow the forests, using all of the timber, building cities and roads, as well as industry for the good of man and progress. Conservationist thought (and preservationist, even more so) flew in the face of this Puritan work ethic. Valuing the untouched land was a foreign concept. However, with the Bitterroot Fire, the Forest Service was able to make a case for governmental regulations, protection, and of course, fire safety. Countless lives were lost and small frontier towns burned to the ground in this fire.
The book itself spends about 1/3 of its whole on the fire, describing some accounts of survivors. The rest of the book dips into the biographies of Pinchot and Roosevelt - their boxing and wrestling matches in Rock Creek Park in DC! - and their enduring friendship and influence over each other. The final third shows the aftermath of the fire, both in Montana and Idaho, but also in the Capitol, and most importantly in policy and law enacted later....more
A very interesting little reference book - the plants are grouped by how "wicked" they are: dangerous, intoxicating, illegal, etc. I learned several tA very interesting little reference book - the plants are grouped by how "wicked" they are: dangerous, intoxicating, illegal, etc. I learned several tidbits from it. Did you know that Bayer drug company was the first distributor of heroin from the opium poppy? It was on the market for years before they completely realized the effects of the drug.
The bit about the deadly nightshade berries crossed my mind when I went berry-picking this past weekend... ...more