Leave It as It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness

David Gessner. Simon & Schuster, $26 (324p) ISBN 978-1-9821-0504-4
Naturalist Gessner (All the Wild that Remains) delivers a thoughtful consideration of Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation legacy as president. According to this book, there is “practically speaking, no greater savior” of U.S. wilderness than Roosevelt, who created five national parks, 150 national forests, and 51 bird and four national game preserves, as well as the United States Forest Service. In a campaign speech delivered on the lip of the Grand Canyon in 1903, he memorably summed up his ethos regarding nature as “Leave it as it is.” This is no hagiography, however, as Gessner highlights his subject’s contradictions and hypocrisies as well as virtues. Most glaringly, like other conservationists of the time, Roosevelt held a “pristine ideal of an unpeopled nature” that pointedly excluded Native Americans, who were viewed as an “encroachment.” However, Gessner sees great value in the 26th president’s “muscular environmentalism,” which saw him unafraid to press or circumvent a reluctant Congress, and which in the present, Gessner believes, could serve as a template for taking action to protect lands under threat from climate change and fossil fuel companies. This is an excellent look at the origins of environmentalism and an inspiring call to build upon what Roosevelt and other early environmentalists started. Agent: Peter Steinberg, Foundry Literary + Media. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/25/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-1059-2
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-9821-0505-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-1061-5
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