Santa was quite generous
with the book-giving this year at my home, and the big guy really nailed it at
the start with historian Donald Worster’s biography, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir. For lovers of Western
scenery, like myself, it was hard to watch Ken Burns’ wonderful documentary series
about our national parks and not be fascinated by John Muir, and want to learn
more about him. Muir was America’s best-known preservationist and naturalist,
an early advocate of the national park idea, and founder of the Sierra Club.
What a truly great
genre biography is, at least in hands as talented as Worster’s. The opportunity
to observe the shaping of a personality and a passion for wilderness like
Muir’s from his earliest years is utterly absorbing. How will this unusual
young man find his place in the world? How will he reconcile his contradictions
and intellectual tensions? Come to terms with the dreadful legacy of his
cheerless, religious-fanatic father? Find the freedom to find himself, to be
himself? The questions abound. If I didn’t have to get up for work this week, I
could literally read this thing all night.
So, on that book-loving
note, happy new year to all of our magazine’s readers and online visitors.
-- Ron Kovach, senior editor, The Writer
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