Matthew's Reviews > Encounters With the Archdruid

Encounters With the Archdruid by John McPhee
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Jan 21, 12


Wow! Great book. I had just finished reading "Cadillac Desert", and "Encounters..." is mentioned throughout...I'd actually been given a copy by a friend in college, but had never read, and had somehow lost in my move to NYC. But, that puzzles me, since its such a short, easy, and important read. The best thing is to do the opposite of what I did, and read "Encounters..." first, and that should whet your appetite for the detailed history "Cadillac Desert" provides.

"Encounters..." is great in that it takes real leaders from the environmental movement, (David Brower) and places them into fictional settings with people from the gov't. (Floyd Dominy) or private land developers (Charles Fraser) so that they can hash out their points of view and differences as they discuss the future of land management while camping, taking hikes, or running the rapids. While I know that this book is a fav. of many environmentalist, its actually very fair and evenhanded in its dealing with the issues. Its takes seriously the question: "Is all land development, bad development?" It also allows for people to understand the various points of view from a setting that is almost confrontational in many ways, (You can almost hear the characters challenging each other to meet on the Colorado River so that they can show each other specific examples that support their point of view) but also perfect as the physical settings allow each of them to move past the rhetoric and use the actual physical environment to back up their claims. (Damn, if only we could do this in the real world, for all issues, in front of all the voting public!) When you think of the power of the scenario, you understand the importance of this book, esp. in the cynical and divisive political times we find ourselves in today.

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