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That Wild Country: An Epic Journey through the Past, Present, and Future of America's Public Lands

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,191 ratings  ·  98 reviews
From prominent outdoorsman and nature writer Mark Kenyon comes an engrossing reflection on the past and future battles over our most revered landscapes—America’s public lands.

Every American is a public-land owner, inheritor to the largest public-land trust in the world. These vast expanses provide a home to wildlife populations, a vital source of clean air and water, and a
Paperback, 300 pages
Published December 1st 2019 by Little A
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Dee Arr
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
Years ago, I was fortunate to be on an overseas trip, visiting friends and taking in the sights of England and Scotland. I marveled at the age of buildings sometimes twice as old as the settlement site in Jamestown, sadly thinking that we didn’t have anything like that in America.

How wrong I was.

It is the natural wonders of the world that are there for us to enjoy, and Mark Kenyon’s book offers a mixture of details that is sure interest everyone. If history is your passion, Mr. Kenyon takes us
Carol Holdcraft
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This historic overview of our national public lands was a great read.

As a seventy year old female nature lover and birder, I was unsure if I would relate to this young hunter and fisherman's story. But one chapter into it I was hooked!
He vividly describes his journeys into some well known as well as lesser known sites. Then he weaves in the history of how those places became publicly owned and preserved. He brings together the political battles and challenges in a meaningful way.
Every person who
Bonnye Reed
I received a free electronic copy of this excellent history of America's Public Lands on December 5, 2019, from Netgalley, Mark Kenyon, and Little A Publishing. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. Kenyon brings to us all the many reasons our public lands are worth fighting for, and details the battles we and our forefathers have fought to keep this important heritage for our children and grandchildren and theirs. I am pleased to recommend this work to friends and family. Mark ...more
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autumn-bingo
I am a National Park addict - I have made it a point to always visit the national parks available to all Americans whenever I'm near one. My favorite is the one I'm closest to and thus have visited the most - the Great Smoky Mountains NP. But I think that Glacier NP has to run a close second - this jewel of Western Montana is so lovely, with landscapes and vistas so sweeping and majestic that they almost defy description. The wildlife is so varied, from the small pika to mountain goats and ...more
As someone who loves the outdoors and public land, this book was great. As someone who doesn't like (or understand) fishing and hunting, this book was enlightening and boring. It was interesting to be able to read through the thought process of someone who so loves the world of hunting and flyfishing. I've never quite gotten the appeal, but now I feel like I understand it a little bit more. However, it didn't make me any more interested in it and so those parts of the book got tedious towards ...more
Nov 15, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
DNF at page 89 (plus some skipping around). Just too much travelogue and not enough public land information.

Kenyon, a hunter and outdoor enthusiast from Michigan, argues in support of federally-owned ("public") lands. Unfortunately, he seems to lump anyone who doesn't espouse his view in with Cliven Bundy and his radical followers, without delving into what most Westerners actually think. Growing up in Utah, I heard the arguments from both sides. Most do not disagree with protecting land but
Kirsten Cutler
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow! This is a wonderful book extolling the beauty of our public lands, and advocating passionately for all of us to protect our incredible heritage, so carefully preserved over more than a century. It is filled with detail about the evolution of the Public Lands preservation movement, and the current horrific assault by some rapacious corporations and politicians to privatize, exploit, and to sell to developers our incredible natural legacy. The author is an avid outdoorsman, a hunter of meat ...more
Laurie Blacker
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m a kindred soul when it comes to protecting and enjoying our public lands. Mark Kenyon - a fellow Michigander - alternated between visiting wild places and telling the story of how these lands were protected in the first place, as well as what we need to do to keep them safe and unspoiled. Wonderful book, I highly recommend it.
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An informative and soul-grabbing account of our public land

I love the outdoors; but wouldn’t have called myself a conservationist before, but I am now. The author has grabbed and pulled me into his cause. The history of the fight is interesting, and the on-going battle is so important. I am in!
Laurie Rolnick
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Save our public lands!

An important, well researched and well written book. I am hoping millions will take up the call to action and continue the fight for our wild public spaces.
Schuyler Wallace
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I suspect that when Mark Kenyon began writing his ode to the great outdoors, “That Wild Country,” he expected to arouse controversy. He did. Those who abhor hunting and fishing or the effort required to enjoy rugged outdoors activity, and dedicated, sometimes pompous, vegans, pooled their self-serving mini-minds to excoriate him for being a meat eater and a hunter. They claim he “hypocritically” writes praise for both the beautiful country and the animals he loves. Can there not be a passion
Gopal Sadagopal
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Author Kenyon, a hunter, hiker and an outdoorsman chronicles the the public and preservation movement in the US over the last two centuries. He beautifully weaves personal trips into the wilderness, historical trips that inspired others and current movements that shape the policies of the day. He points out the dangers posed to the public lands and stresses the need to protect the public land that is owned by ALL OF US.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Thanks to my sister for gifting this book to me! Very good history and description of wilderness and national parks worth fighting for.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good stories, lots of history and background that explains the current state, or plight, of public lands. As a full-time RVer who mainly boondocks (dispersed camping without hookups) on federal public land in the West, I found it a good, easy read!
Catherine Nelson

The ability to describe and connect me to these wild and wonderful places makes me want to pack up and go. It reminded me of my own adventures, the calm and contentment the self efficiency the wonder and awe inspired by the wild beauty the feeling of responsibility to "leave only footprints behind" the feeling of accomplishment arriving exhausted and sore to my next destination . The lessons learned on the trail have helped me in so many aspects of my life. Even more importantly however
Whistlers Mom
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The fight to save the wild places has been a wild ride, and it's not over yet!

In the "Friendly Persuasion," there's a touching scene where the ageing Quaker farmer looks around at his Indiana farm, his children and grandchildren, and asks his wife in bewilderment, "How did it all happen, Eliza? How did we all get here?" It's a question every thoughtful person asks sooner or later.

For this author - a Michigan native, a Google-employee-turned-outdoor-writer, and an active hiker, fisherman, and
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was hands-down one of the best books I read this entire year.

Kenyon did an amazing job of defining the integral importance of public lands and how each and every American is impacted in both small and large ways by them.

Framing his own amazing personal experiences and interactions with these public lands across the United States, he describes the historical backgrounds of each of these destinations as well. Through Kenyon's eyes we get to hear how his personal heroes have shaped the laws
Chunyang Ding
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I felt pretty conflicted about That Wild Country - Mark Kenyon writes quite a well researched book on land conservation and public land use in the United States, and as an avid adventurer, he definitely brings in a lot of the personal flair that is emblematic of the "wilderness book" genre. Like Abbey and Egan, Kenyon really draws on his personal experience from hiking through these public lands to sell his argument about conservation.

But some aspects of his argument seem raw. In particular, he
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a hopeful and despairing book. It combinesmarks own journeys through America's public land with the history and current story of how we came to have these public lands and how they are currently being threatened. Mark is able to make the reader experience these places through his description and narration of his own travels. Mark uses public lands as places to camp, hike, hunt, fish, and find solace. For much of the nineteenth century, American policy was to turn public land into ...more
Ursula Johnson
Dec 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
A Hunter & Outdoor Lovers Journal, & Part Bio

This book was not what I expected. I thought it would be a bio of some major public lands. Instead, it's a part biography and more of a record of the authors outdoor excursions. The point is supposed to be how anyone can enjoy public lands and conservation. It doesn't really work since hunting and conservation don't necessarily go hand in hand. Several of the places he visited I'd never heard of. It wasn't always mentioned where they actually
Dec 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I just couldn't. Mark Kenyon sets out to visit all of our National Parks and write a history of the National Park System as well as part memoir or travel log. Unfortunately, all of the national parks he talks about sort of become one thing - a fishing trip with bears - and they all sort of sound like the same place. Even the geysers that are unique to Yellowstone he just passes over and hardly mentions. So over and over again he goes into nature ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A difficult read

Jumps around through about ten years of his visits to public lands and about 150 years of history.
While going over the author's take on public land use (about the 15th time) it occurred to me that there is an inherent unfairness in expecting Utah, Nevada, Alaska, etc to give up 50 percent or more of their land over to Federal control while states like New York, Connecticut, Iowa do not even come close to the six percent average of public land.
It's hard to believe that there's
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear and concise up to the moment history and defense of public lands in the US by a hunter/fisherman/environmentalist. The author recognizes the ongoing war against our public lands by a small number of representatives of private extractive industries. "...ceding wild places to industry would strip America of its natural resources, and leave it a shell of a country, no longer self-sufficient and prosperous." The author tacks back and forth between his own adventures and explorations of public ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a result of being both an informative book on the history of public lands and a personal travelogue, this book felt excessively long. The constant switching between the two meant the stories were told side by side, and I'm not sure how else you would do this, but it felt a bit jarring at times. Just as I got invested in some RV hijinks, it'd switch back to history. Then just as I got invested in hearing about how this beautiful public lands have been politicized, back to anecdotes about a ...more
Michael McCue
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
That Wild Country is Mark Kenyon's first full length book. He has written about outdoor sports and public lands and conservation issues in several magazines and maintains an internet presence. When Kenyon realized that the public lands he loved were under assault from various fronts he set out to visit as many sites as he could while researching the history of anti-public land elements going back to the industrialist who opposed the establishment of the first national parks and on the the ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
That Wild Country is a good book which focuses on the history of the struggles to save the America wilderness for the general public. From the mid 1800s, there have been individuals and industries which work to control the great open spaces for their own benefit and wealth, and there have also been individuals working to save these areas for the next generation. It made me understand that we are only continuing this struggle today. Kenyon talks about the historic conservation "greats" such as ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was handed a fly rod at the age of 6, backpacked into many national forests, camped under the stars and was taught to cherish this beautiful place we call the United States of America. I took my own children from the time they were safe to travel into the these wild places Mark Kenyan writes about. I called Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Minnesota and Montana home at different times during my life. Mark's stories brought back the memories to remind me and I hope others how important it is to save ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it
A classic I-search book: the author recounts his own experiences exploring the government holdings, mostly BLM lands, that are "below the notice" of most citified National Park buffs, interwoven with his thoughts, based on a lot of little known history, on how these lands are managed, and mismanaged. With the barbarians beating on the door of these lands, and the need to further despoil nature in order to keep on doing what we keep on doing -- fossil fuels at any cost, faster, more thorough ...more
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A little bit too much of a travel log, but a good book non-the-less. The history of our public land is interesting in & of itself. It is an important topic, and too few understand the great gift we have in public lands. I think Mark makes a good point.

“ I had taken something from the land, as we all do when venturing out into our nation’s shared landscape. Whether harvesting an animal or stringing a rope along a rock face, catching a fish or slashing a muddy bike track down a slope, we all
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good first book. The author is a firm believer in public lands, and he makes an excellent argument for keeping it. Using historical sources and persons, tied with his own experiences, we can feel that passion for wilderness that exists in so many of us. We are offended by the greedy who want to despoil what is so important to us lovers of nature and the wilderness.

Meanwhile, the part of the book about the hunter's passion explains it in a way that I found very interesting. I am not a
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