cover image A Conservationist Manifesto

A Conservationist Manifesto

Scott Russell Sanders, . . Indiana Univ., $19.95 (238pp) ISBN 978-0-253-22080-6

In these predictable but frequently insightful essays, Sanders (Writing from the Center ) muses on how to care for the Earth, local communities and future generations. He condemns the mainstream “American way of life” as an “infantile dream of endless consumption, endless novelty, and endless play” and, calling for a “dream worthy of grownups,” explores ways to realize this dream, such as his own decision to stay put in one place and discover that his ambition was not to “make a good career but to make a good life” and remain attentive to nature and the present moment. Sanders offers a 40-point “Conservationist Manifesto,” which, in its thoroughness, thoughtfulness and inclusion of environmental justice issues would serve the environmentalist community well. But the most original and intriguing ideas in this book are Sanders's thoughts about words and their meanings, as when he suggests that for a season we make explicit the meaning of “consumers” by replacing it with “devourers,” or that wilderness is a Sabbath of space rather than time, and we need both kinds of Sabbath “because Earth could use a respite from our demands.” (Apr.)