Tom Kepler's Reviews > The Young Forester

The Young Forester by Zane Grey
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Dec 24, 14

bookshelves: western
Read in September, 2011

The Young Forester is one of the most simply constructed plots that I've read of Zane Grey's western romance novels. It has also contains something new, though, that adds to its readability: the protagonist wants to enter a career path new to America--that of the forester, of protecting and nurturing the forests rather than clear-cutting them.

To see the principles of forestry and environmental protection promoted in a western romance first published in 1910 is an education of both how far our culture has come in caring for our environment, and how far it still has to go.

"[Lumbermen] are in such a hurry to get rich that they'll leave their grandchildren a desert. They cut and slash in every direction, and then fires come and the country is ruined. Our rivers depend upon the forests for water. The trees draw the rain; the leaves break it up and let it fall in mists and drippings; it seeps into the ground, and is held by roots. If the trees are destroyed the rain rushes off on the surface and floods the rivers. The forests store up water, and they do good in other ways."

The novel, though, is not a lecture on principles of forestry.

The tale follows young Ken who charges off from the east (where he does camp, hunt, fish, and enjoy the forests) to the raw wilderness of Arizona. There he meets unscrupulous lumbermen, adventure, and proves that he has, beneath his inexperienced tenderfoot ways, the steel of a man. And the principles of forestry, of course, prevail.

I enjoyed the book and was glad to see that the principles of scientific forestry prevailed in 1910, even if they are still struggling in 2011, one hundred years later.

Also available as a free ebook through Project Gutenberg: The Young Forester .

A Note About Zane Grey:

Zane Grey wrote his stories for the people who bought them. White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, preferably male, are the protagonists. Woman are bosom-clutching individuals, more emotionally fragile than men--strong but only in their own female way. Racial and ethnic minorities are of lesser stature than the WASP main characters. Grey's romanticized vision of the wild west, unfortunately, did not include the visionary equality of gender, race, or cultural diversity. He was a man of his times--and those times had their issues.

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