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

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From prominent outdoorsman and nature writer Mark Kenyon comes an engrossing reflection on the past and future battles over our most revered landscapesAmericas 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 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 haven for recreation. Since its inception, however, America’s public land system has been embroiled in controversy—caught in the push and pull between the desire to develop the valuable resources the land holds or conserve them. Alarmed by rising tensions over the use of these lands, hunter, angler, and outdoor enthusiast Mark Kenyon set out to explore the spaces involved in this heated debate, and learn firsthand how they came to be and what their future might hold. Part travelogue and part historical examination, That Wild Country invites readers on an intimate tour of the wondrous wild and public places that are a uniquely profound and endangered part of the American landscape.


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From prominent outdoorsman and nature writer Mark Kenyon comes an engrossing reflection on the past and future battles over our most revered landscapesAmericas 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 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 haven for recreation. Since its inception, however, America’s public land system has been embroiled in controversy—caught in the push and pull between the desire to develop the valuable resources the land holds or conserve them. Alarmed by rising tensions over the use of these lands, hunter, angler, and outdoor enthusiast Mark Kenyon set out to explore the spaces involved in this heated debate, and learn firsthand how they came to be and what their future might hold. Part travelogue and part historical examination, That Wild Country invites readers on an intimate tour of the wondrous wild and public places that are a uniquely profound and endangered part of the American landscape.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    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 didnt 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 Kenyons book offers a mixture of details that is sure interest everyone. If history is your passion, Mr. Kenyon takes us on 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 on a journey through the pitched battles between the businessmen and the conservationists, each pursuing a diametrically opposed path. The parks and monuments we visit today (and perhaps take for granted!) might not have been here if not for the efforts of people like Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, John Muir, and Presidents Harrison, Cleveland, and McKinley. When Roosevelt assumed the Presidency, he fought hard for what he believed in, extending by millions of acres the federal land earmarked for enjoyment by the American people. These initial steps were later taken farther by people like Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. If your interests lie in communing with nature (or perhaps you prefer the fishing or hunting aspects), you will not feel left out. Mr. Kenyon describes his fishing almost as if it were holy (and I am sure, to him it is), and even as one who does not fish, I can understand the essence of what he is feeling. Hunting trips are also described, although I enjoyed his detailed search to find antlers. The author shared that these searches also tell him much of where the deer might be once hunting season commences, certainly a huge advantage to those who walk the forests and mountains hunting with a bow. I found the mixture of history and life interesting and entertaining. Wherever Mr. Kenyon was hiking or fishing or whatever, he would interject slices of history before returning to what ever he and his wife or friends were doing. This kept the book moving forward and I liked the combination of personal life story mixed with historical background. This is a great read that just might cause you to begin a search for a good pair of hiking boots. Five stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol Holdcraft

    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 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 loves our National Parks and other natural areas should read this book. He makes a great case for how conservative hunting/fishing advocates and liberal nature lovers can and should work together to protect our wild and wonderful public lands.

  3. 5 out of 5

    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 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 Kenyon is an author I will follow. This is a must-read for all ages. For hunters, fishermen, adventure filmmakers and writers, mountain bikers, skiers, backpackers, and RVers, for people looking for a picnic spot to those with a summer to spend in the wilds. This is a go-to for finding your favorite place, the spot that you know in your soul you need to find peace or to share with a loved one. Kenyon covers all the greats and many of the not-so-great parks for those of us seeking solitude and the blessings of wilderness. He also defines all the past proponents of our national parks, forests, Wilderness parks, BLM, and monuments - from Teddy Roosevelt, Edward Abby, Wallace Stegner, to modern nature lovers like this author, Randy Newberg, Peter Metcalf, Rose Marcario of Patagonia and corporations like Patagonia, REI and Cabela. This is a battle we will lose if we don't stand together. And it is a dirty fight. Always check your sources before you believe what you read, and especially before you donate. Those seeking to move federal lands to state control or private sale can throw unlimited funds into the fight. We can't match them a dollar per dollar. We need to make every penny of our hard-won money count. This is not a political party issue but a concerted effort to keep irreplaceable wild America as it is. I will end with a quote Kenyon shared from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. "They say that hunters and tree huggers can't get together. That's BS. The only way we're going to get anything done is to work together." And remember that if 'they' can't buy the lands, they can cut the funding until there is nothing left to save. Just look at what happened to our parks - especially Joshua Tree National Park, over the last Federal budget shutdown. pub date Dec 1, 2019 rec Dec 5, 2019 Publisher Little A Reviewed on December 17, 2019, at Goodreads, Netgalley, AmazonSmile, Barnes&Noble, and BookBub. Not available for review on Kobo or GooglePlay.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink*

    This is an elegy for our public lands in America that are slowly being consumed. Trash. Graffiti. Influencers. Encroachment. In many ways, we are loving our public lands to death. We are desperate to prove that we did something or that we went somewhere that we disregard nature for our own desires. We stray from the paths that keep the lands safe. We trample poppies and climb fences. Public lands are suffering from this and changing. This book is a remembrance of what escapism is all about. What it is This is an elegy for our public lands in America that are slowly being consumed. Trash. Graffiti. Influencers. Encroachment. In many ways, we are loving our public lands to death. We are desperate to prove that we did something or that we went somewhere that we disregard nature for our own desires. We stray from the paths that keep the lands safe. We trample poppies and climb fences. Public lands are suffering from this and changing. This book is a remembrance of what escapism is all about. What it is for. The lands are for getting away, not for your next post. This book dives into the history of why public lands are so cherished and necessary in the United States and how the author likes to use them. He emphasizes that even in this crazy digital world we are in, it is possible to disconnect completely. I like the idea of being able to remove myself from the modern and reconnect to the past and to nature. It is so difficult to do but I believe that it is necessary for the soul. "We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope." - Edward Abbey

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    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 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 bighorn sheep to grizzly bears. So this book - part a history of the many types of public lands (it's not just national parks) and how they came into being and how they are managed, and part a travelogue and personal journey of the author's through some of America's most pristine places - appealed to me on many levels. Some of these are places I've visited, or want to visit, while others are places I'm unlikely to go and yet I feel richer knowing that they are there for all Americans. Americans as a nation own an incredible 28% of our land as public lands - 640 million acres. It's not just national parks, but also wildernesses, wildlife refuges, national forests, and other publicly managed lands. The author starts with Yellowstone - the first national park, and first of its kind in the world - and traces the development of public land policy as pro-conservation forces like Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir were confronted by pro-development forces. The pendulum swings back and forth over the next 100 years as these two forces continually push and pull the boundaries on how we use our public lands. The past few years have been an overall loss for the public as there are forces that want to exploit the resources with little regard to what we all lose. This is an important book because Kenyon is not a tree-hugger - he does hunt and fish and wants to protect the natural areas for those uses. The use of public lands can bring together liberals and conservatives, hunters and tree huggers - we all should be concerned about our lands. It has become a partisan point and it should not be - this should concern all of us as Americans. This land IS our land - unless it is sold or exploited by industry. Quotes to remember: Teddy Roosevelt: "Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see." Mark Twain supposedly once said that "history doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes." ...wild places and resources of America, especially its forests, shouldn't be monopolized by the rich few, but rather conserved for the many....conservation should be defined by managing natural resources to "provide the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run." Roosevelt...created 5 national parks, 150 national forests, more than 50 wildlife refuges, and 18 national monuments - in total more than 230 million acres of newly protected lands. And he did all of this despite enormous pushback from anti-public-land forces. In its 9 years of existence, it's said that the Civilian Conservation Corps planted between 2 and 3 billion trees, cleared 13 thousand miles of hiking trails, built more than 40 thousand bridges and 3 thousand fire towers, helped establish more than 700 new state parks, made improvements in 94 national parks or monument areas, and developed 52 thousand acres of public campgrounds. And while all the work happened nearly a century ago, many CCC projects are still used today. October 2, 1968. The legislation formally established two national scenic trails - the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail [I had no idea that the AT was this recently established] ...the nation witnessed a rare moment in history when both Democrats and Republicans fought in equal measure to carry the mantle of the environmental movement forward. Rather than proposing overt land sales...now it's 'Let's cut agency budgets, let's impair the value of these lands, let's not fund all of the management actions, let's not fund all of the back-logged maintenance, let's not give the agencies the money they need to do their work.'

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten Cutler

    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 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 to feed his family, and also a hiker and backwoods camper who loves the serenity and beauty of wild habitat. Admittedly, I am uncomfortable with the occasional brief description of a hunt (I am a vegetarian, leaning toward vegan) yet I unquestionably have an admiration for this man who writes so beautifully about his forays into the wilderness, and advocates so eloquently for everyone to join together to protect our public lands. The author presents a clear case for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to join together to preserve our common heritage of public lands for future generations. Highly recommended!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Frank Troth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I found the book very engaging, already being an outdoors person and having an interest in issues of how our public lands are used. The title says it all: Kenyon alternates chapters of engaging personal experience exploring American public lands -- national parks, wilderness, grassland, lakeshore, etc. with chapters exploring the history of the US Public Lands movement up to the present day and the dangers it faces. The government started giving away land in the 1800s to private individuals and I found the book very engaging, already being an outdoors person and having an interest in issues of how our public lands are used. The title says it all: Kenyon alternates chapters of engaging personal experience exploring American public lands -- national parks, wilderness, grassland, lakeshore, etc. with chapters exploring the history of the US Public Lands movement up to the present day and the dangers it faces. The government started giving away land in the 1800s to private individuals and businesses to promote westward expansion, simply put. Over the decades through an uneven evolved process, the government figured out how to manage the land it has -- seven times the area of Germany -- and in different ways. This, of course, has been met with opposition from privatization groups waxing and waning, often with the parties in office, often masked as local government control. Kenyon discusses the "Sagebrush Rebellion" a thread of western ranchers, farmers, seeking less government control or taxation on BLM lands, etc., most recently in the popular news with the taxes for use of the Malheur WLR by Ammon Bundy. Also known as the "land transfer movement". The author, who is also a hunter and fisher, is cautiously optimistic that the "Cabela's crowd" and the "REI crowd" are coming together to confront the corporate and political interests that would diminish our national public lands by delegating control to weaker, more easily influenced local authorities or by sale or lease to large corporations.

  8. 5 out of 5

    J.S.

    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 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 are resentful of Eastern politicians locking up Western land simply for environmental/political points (Obama) or to enhance their "legacy" (Clinton). Pronouncements are never made with local input, but are done by political expediency. And Kenyon seems oblivious to the troubles such land designations cause for those who live there - such as the crowds, litter, and noise he complains about on his brief trip to Moab, UT (not to mention that few tourism jobs pay well, or that Nat'l Parks are woefully underfunded). Instead we read pages and pages of his driving (where he can't get a spot in crowded campgrounds) and trying to figure out how to dump the sewage from his camper/trailer. For the most part I agree with his view of the value of public lands, but the lack of balance and excess of travelogue was just disappointing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I love reading about our National Parks and public lands and this one gives us a birds-eye view, plus I discovered several new places to add to my bucket-list.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Blacker

    Im 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. 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    An informative and soul-grabbing account of our public land I love the outdoors; but wouldnt 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! 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!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Rolnick

    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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Schuyler Wallace

    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 that 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 that goes both ways? When I read his book and basked in the glorious accounts of his outdoors adventures, some of which involve hunting, fishing, back packing, or simply enjoying nature’s glorious countenance, I saw neither lecherous nor unbridled passion as he shoots an animal for sustenance or hooks a glorious fish that, in most cases, he releases. Having been a hunter and fisherman all my life, I have reached the point of being slightly uncomfortable with the idea of killing something that lives and breathes in the wilderness, of eliminating a beautiful creature. But I understand the passion behind the process and, as long as it isn’t wanton and wasteful, I can live with it. And I sense the same reservations in Kenyon’s devotion, making me a believer and respecter of his position. Now, let’s talk about the book. It’s a marvelous examination of our protected wild spaces, both their existence and their formation. His examination of the lands that are threatened by private interests is thorough, interesting, and revelatory. Much of the positive political activity he talks about has gone unnoticed. He is quick to point out both violations and support for the protections put in place by past activists, including those of some Presidents of the United States. He talks about past and present dissenters to the safeguarding of property, pointing out their ragged excuses for objection, most of which are centered on self-interest. He also takes the opportunity to discuss his own rambles into the wilderness as he enjoys the quiet, the suspense, the beauty, the discomfort and the climate extremes. When recalled by old, crippled up outdoor enthusiasts such as myself, they provoke a shiver of past excitement and well-being. I’ve seldom enjoyed such glorious descriptions of personal experiences. His melding of experiential and historical events removes the dust from the historical aspects and gives them revitalization. You must read this book for the history and descriptive accounts of venturing into, delighting in, and protecting the wild. Thank you, Mark Kenyon, for the glorious opportunity to stay comfortably settled in my recliner as I relive my past. I appreciate the preservation efforts.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    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 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 private land such as land grants to soldiers, the homestead act, and land provided for railroads. By the last part of the nineteenth century their began to be a widespread realization that certain landscapes needed to be preserved and to belong to all Americans. Mark details the significant impact of distinct individuals: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Gifford Pinochet, Aldo Leopold, Franklin Roosevelt. Stewart Udall and others. He also details the persistent push back from industry and state government and ways those challenges were successfully surmounted. He explains how the current Republican party has embraced and pushed the anti-public land position. He shows the ways groups with quite diverse values and stakes in public lands have joined together to protect our public lands and help keep the focus on providing continuing support as this administration and Western States continue to threaten public lands in new and unexpected ways. Eternal vigilance is necessary to be sure public lands remain for future generations.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    I can't begin to say how much I enjoyed this book. As a middle-aged man just now starting my outdoor adventures, I found this book to not only be informative on the history of the public lands that are found all across the United States but provided me with so many idea of adventures to add to my list of National Park exploration. It also enlightened me on the extent of the public land available to me. I was saddened to learn of the current threat to the National Monuments, Parks and other I can't begin to say how much I enjoyed this book. As a middle-aged man just now starting my outdoor adventures, I found this book to not only be informative on the history of the public lands that are found all across the United States but provided me with so many idea of adventures to add to my list of National Park exploration. It also enlightened me on the extent of the public land available to me. I was saddened to learn of the current threat to the National Monuments, Parks and other public lands. The book was recently published and was very up to date with what is happening politically as it relates to public lands. It encouraged me to become better aware and to start paying attention to what our public officials are saying about our lands and our natural resources. Kenyon's use of personal experience paired with his detailed and almost poetic descriptions of the majesty of all that is available to us as residents of the United States. I walked away from this book able to proudly state "I am a public land owner". #publiclandowner

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Leatherman

    I really loved this part memoir/part history/activism narrative. If you have ever been curious about our and I mean OUR public lands and why they are not only so special but how fragile they are, then you need to pick up this book. Mark explains everything so easily! I love the parts where he goes into these public lands and makes me feel like Im there with him. I am absolutely compelled to fight for OUR lands and to keep them public after reading this. We have destroyed too much already of what I really loved this part memoir/part history/activism narrative. If you have ever been curious about our and I mean OUR public lands and why they are not only so special but how fragile they are, then you need to pick up this book. Mark explains everything so easily! I love the parts where he goes into these public lands and makes me feel like I’m there with him. I am absolutely compelled to fight for OUR lands and to keep them public after reading this. We have destroyed too much already of what land was here in the US and I’d love a little to see some it unspoiled. I find this so true coming coming from a State like Ohio where much of what the land used to be is buried under farm land. I myself grew up on a farm and learned to love the outdoors and just don’t see how we can put a little bit of the big world to protect for future generations to see

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gopal Sadagopal

    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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelsy

    I wanted to love this book, but Id rather listen to my husband talk about adventures in our wild placeshes much more knowledgeable and interesting! Maybe this is good as an entry-level book to public lands/outdoor adventures? I wanted to love this book, but I’d rather listen to my husband talk about adventures in our wild places—he’s much more knowledgeable and interesting! Maybe this is good as an entry-level book to public lands/outdoor adventures?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    Thanks to my sister for gifting this book to me! Very good history and description of wilderness and national parks worth fighting for.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    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!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Reagan Haas

    They say that hunters and tree huggers cant get together...Thats bullshit. The only way were going to get anything done is to work together. -Yvon Chouinard “They say that hunters and tree huggers can’t get together...That’s bullshit. The only way we’re going to get anything done is to work together.” -Yvon Chouinard

  22. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Nelson

    Inspired 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 Inspired 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 is my responsibility to join my voice and effort in ensuring that our public places remain intact untouched unmolested so that every one now and forever have them to enjoy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Whistlers Mom

    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 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 hunter all his life - it came when he thought of the vast undeveloped lands owned by the U.S. government and enjoyed by millions of people every year. An amazing 640 MILLION acres of land in the U.S. is publicly owned. That's 28% of our country's land and Americans flock to those public parks and forests. Every year, 588 MILLION Americans visit national parks, national forests, BLM lands, and national wildlife refuges. Almost one TRILLION dollars is spent every year on outdoor recreation, which creates millions of jobs. But where did it all come from? This fascinating book traces the movement to preserve wild lands and wildlife from its beginnings in the 19th century to the present-day stormy political scene. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the only problem seemed to be disposing of all that land west of the Mississippi. The Homestead Act gave land to anyone who'd settle on it. Huge tracts were given to railroad, mining, and timber companies. Civil War soldiers were given land instead of paychecks. One billion acres quickly passed from public to private ownership. Even then, some voices were raised to protect the wild lands in the American West. In 1964, President Lincoln signed the bill creating Yellowstone National Park. Surprisingly, the railroad companies promoted the bill and even donated land in the interests of creating tourist attractions along their lines, thus gaining paying customers. Conservationists and business interests pulled together on that one, but it was never as simple again. The American West found a energetic promoter in the person of Theodore Roosevelt. An Eastern Establishment type and a Republican, he fell in love with the West and fought to preserve the undeveloped land and its wildlife. Backed by his powerful friends in the Boone & Crockett Club, he fought for stricter game laws and laws slowing deforestation. They achieved the Forest Reserve Act of 1891, still considered one of the most important pieces of conservation legislation. As President, Roosevelt turned the U.S. Forest Service into a force for forest protection and used his executive power to create the Grand Canyon National Park over the shrill opposition of the governor of Arizona. Western business interests called him a "Judas" and accused him of socialism, launching a huge, expensive smear campaign against him. Teddy stood firm, but in the end, he was forced out of the Republican party. WWII, the lawlessness of the Roaring Twenties, and the start of the Great Depression meant environmental protections eroded during what the author calls "an era ruled by greed and fear." Then another Roosevelt (Franklin D.) combined his plans to combat the Depression by creating employment with a new wave of conservation. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the country's most visited park) was created and the Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs for thousands of unemployed men and improved both new and existing parks. Like his cousin, he faced smear campaigns by business interests and charges of being a land-grabbing socialist. And like Teddy Roosevelt, he went right on doing what he believed was right. WWII and the post-war economic boom brought new challenges for conservationists. Public lands were given away to developers. Pollution increased as new chemicals became available and America's national symbol - the Golden Eagle - almost became extinct. Finally, there was a backlash and the 1960's and 1970's were a golden period for conservationism. What's interesting is how often the movement was bi-partisan. President Richard Nixon has received little credit (and none from this author!), but the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were passed during his administration, along with a number of other important conservation bills. Not only was conservation a bi-partisan effort then, but conservationists, business interests, and land users cooperated. The Pittman-Robertson Act taxed guns and ammunition (and even bows and arrows) to fund wildlife preserves. In 1950, the similar Dingell-Johnson Act taxed sport fishing equipment and boats. Both bills were passed with the full cooperation of hunters and fishermen and have generated billions of dollars in revenue. Today, they provide 80% of the funding for state wildlife preserves. When did it change? When Ronald Reagan ran for president and declared himself a "Sagebrush Rebel." The Sagebrush Rebellion is a movement of Westerners who resent laws created by the federal government. It started with people like the Clive Bundy family who illegally grazed cattle on public land for decades. When the BLM tried to stop them, they called for an armed rebellion against the federal government. It's a complicated issue and I think the author tries to be fair to both sides. The then-governor of Colorado Richard Lamm, summed up the difficulty of characterizing the movement and its adherents, "Only one certainty exists - that the Stagebrush is a revolt against federal authority, and at the taproot grows deep in the country's history. Beyond that, it is incoherent. Part hypocrisy, part demagoguery, partly the honest anger of honest people, it is a movement of confusion and hysteria and terrifyingly destructive potential." When the Bundy family took over federal facility and held it by armed force, resulting in one death, the nation learned just HOW destructive the movement could be. Now "conservation" (like "climate change") is a dirty word for the Republican Party and the party's "plank" states firmly that the party supports the "land-transfer movement" which sells public lands to developers, timber companies, and mining interests. Leaving conservative-leaning conservationists like the author of this book out in the cold. Every Republican administration since Reagan's has followed the "death by a thousand cuts" policy of selling lands and cutting funding for conservation programs. Then Democratic administrations do what they can to reverse the damage. Is this the best we can do? To some extent, this is an "Easterner against Westerner" conflict, since the great majority of public land lies west of the Mississippi River. But we Easterners are bleeding, too. FDR created the Tennessee Valley Authority to dam rivers, control flooding, produce electricity, and create recreational lakes. The land was taken from private owners and the promise was made that it would always be public land. Now politicians are finding loop-holes to sell that land to developers. "Let's get it back on the tax rolls" is their cry, politely ignoring the inevitable tax breaks given to large developers. Working together for conservation requires compromise and that's something Americans aren't good at. Can tree-hugging vegans partner with hunters and fishermen? Can purists who want NO "improvements" in parks find common ground with those who want to build roads and pave paths so that the disabled or elderly can enjoy them, too? Can people in the rural West be brought into the process and made to feel that they have a voice? Or will we continue our current practice of see-sawing back-and-forth? Don't be discouraged from reading this book because it has a political message. That's less than 20% of the total narrative. The bulk of the book is wonderful descriptions of the author's experiences in wild places. Childhood trips to the Adirondack Mountains. Hikes in the Michigan woods with boyhood friends. Travels out west with college friends, exploring territory so wild and rugged it took their breath away in more ways than one! Camping trips with his wife, a VERY good sport. Buffalo are majestic creatures and we all want to preserve them, but a 2,000 lb behemoth scratching his back on your tent poles is another matter. Preserving habitat for grizzly bears is something most of us can agree on, but those suckers WILL kill and eat you under the right circumstances. Best of all was the wilderness hiking trip he and his sister took with their vision-impaired father. There are many ways that a family can enjoy each other, but a hike in the woods will teach you things about your loved ones that you never imagined. This is a great book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aidan Pretti

    A great read providing personal narratives about Kenyons own experiences in nature intertwined with a history of the fight for public lands from Teddy Roosevelt to the Bundy Standoff and present day. A great reminder that it is a constant battle to hold back the tide encroaching on our public lands, but one entirely worth fighting. A great read providing personal narratives about Kenyon’s own experiences in nature intertwined with a history of the fight for public lands from Teddy Roosevelt to the Bundy Standoff and present day. A great reminder that it is a constant battle to hold back the tide encroaching on our public lands, but one entirely worth fighting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Craig Amason

    I have enjoyed every trip I have made to public lands in this country: from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Yosemite to Yellowstone, from the Grand Tetons to the Grand Canyon, from the Gateway Arch to the National Mall, and various National Forest Recreation Areas. It is a tragedy that protecting public lands against extraction activity, development, and private commercial use has become such a contested political issue. Mark Kenyon does a fine job of explaining the I have enjoyed every trip I have made to public lands in this country: from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Yosemite to Yellowstone, from the Grand Tetons to the Grand Canyon, from the Gateway Arch to the National Mall, and various National Forest Recreation Areas. It is a tragedy that protecting public lands against extraction activity, development, and private commercial use has become such a contested political issue. Mark Kenyon does a fine job of explaining the history of the establishment and expansion of public lands over that last 150 years while also discussing the threats to these national treasures from politicians, government officials, lobbyists, corporations, and even individual citizens. Preserving the wild spaces in the U.S. is a complicated effort with multiple nuanced positions from many different perspectives across the socio-political landscape. For instance, while many of us realize the value of keeping public lands undisturbed for people to enjoy, the ever-increasing crowds of visitors to public lands, many of whom are not as respectful of these places as they should be, can be almost as threatening as miners or drillers. Preserving public lands makes for strange bed fellows too, like hunters joining forces with environmentalists and even animal rights activists to fight against state and national legislation that threatens these natural resources. Kenyon provides in-depth coverage of recent laws, policies, and activism that have both threatened and protected the millions of square miles owned by the federal government for the use of the general public for recreation and exploration. However, he couples this information with fascinating details of his own adventures (and humorous misadventures) on public lands with close friends and family members. The result is an impressive work of creative nonfiction that should be of interest to anyone who appreciates the incredible resources we all have as Americans in our national parks, wilderness regions, monuments, and historic sites.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    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 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 and policies that govern what we know today as public lands. We also get to understand what public lands are capable of, and how each and every single person can together agree on the simple fact that public lands (whatever purpose we use them for) are so incredibly important to American well-being. He also outlines the importance of balance - we can't just have individuals claiming resources, or individuals using it just for recreational purposes. There needs to be a beautiful balance. But Kenyon argues that this shouldn't be based on your political views, but more your own personal values alongside being able to access the kind of opportunities we all deserve to live the fullest life possible by our own definition. I feel inspired having read this. I feel inspired to go outside, go out on a hike, and be a part of these public lands that so many historical figures have fought to endow to generations to come. I also feel inspired to start the fight as well... Public lands belong to everyone. If it's any consolation, I truly never write full reviews of novels I read. But this one.... This one deserved it. Kenyon is a fighter, an advocate, and a hero of this generation by standing up for what he believes in and being will to say the hard things not for his own benefit but for the benefit of us all - because what he argues is the right thing. 10/10 would recommend to anyone.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chunyang Ding

    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 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 commentated on how his friend Tran, who was not a big outdoorsy person, seemed to enjoy the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail. In that chapter, he seems like the disparaging tour guide, patiently showing nature to those who are too ignorant to appreciate life outside of the regular comforts, and begrudgingly accepts the loud sounds of the teenagers who are camping nearby. Sadly, this seems like a fairly recurring theme in this genre of literature, but I really think it skims over the issues that govern who is really able to enjoy these lands. Kenyon does make a serious effort to extend the tent of public land ownership to as many different groups as possible, and I do applaud that. But the privilege of being able to take time off of work/school to go hiking, or to have equipment that is suitable for such a hike, or, perhaps most importantly, the knowledge and training that comes from growing up in a culture of celebrating such an activity, really does set apart who can really take advantage of this gift. In spite of that oversight, I found the book to be thoroughly enjoyable. It does make me want to go and enjoy these public lands more, while I still can.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    Part memoir, part history lesson - a cogent defense of our public lands in the U.S. I'm the U.S., our National Parks, our National Monuments, our Public Lands . . . They belong to all of us, they are our common public heritage, and responsibility. Since the time of President Theodore Roosevelt, they have also been controversial. Does the federal government have the right to hold and administer lands for the public? Should it? Why not the states? Kenyon lays out some of the history of these Part memoir, part history lesson - a cogent defense of our public lands in the U.S. I'm the U.S., our National Parks, our National Monuments, our Public Lands . . . They belong to all of us, they are our common public heritage, and responsibility. Since the time of President Theodore Roosevelt, they have also been controversial. Does the federal government have the right to hold and administer lands for the public? Should it? Why not the states? Kenyon lays out some of the history of these arguments, showing that for the common good, public lands must remain in the care of the federal government. Opposition to the very existence of public lands, usually by those who wish to despoil and exploit the lands, is usually strong at the state level - if public lands reverted back to the states, some states would quickly begin to sell them off of exploit them rather than protecting them. In recent years, we've seen a rising tide of opposition from the poetic-sounding Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s to increasingly dangerous attempts to force armed confrontation (e.g. Cliven and Ammon Bundy). This opposition to public lands misses the point that the lands are not theirs to exploit, but everybody's to enjoy, and if the lands were "returned to the states" or (in an even more ridiculous phrases) "returned to the people" (by which they mean STOLEN from the people and gifted to CERTAIN people), many of these treasures would be destroyed and forever lost. Bottom line - it is a good book, with an important message - support your public lands!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ursula Johnson

    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 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 are. Numerous, tedious descriptions of hiking and camping trips and you can't mention where it's located? A mistake to not include. As someone who doesn't hike, camp or backpack this book isn't going to make me start. The first thing that should be mentioned is that you can die out in the boonies. A number of people have this year. There is also the issue of how many people go missing in National Parks and wilderness areas. Missing 411 is a must read for outdoor lovers. It's also fun and games unless a cryptid shows up, which is happening more often now. I've read numerous accounts of how many people lived the outdoors until their not always pleasant experience. I struggled through this, even listening to the audiobook narrated by the author. That is not always a good idea. Sorry, but everyone is not going to want to go out in the boonies. The public lands may supposedly be owned by all, but not all are going to risk their lives to use them.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Landwehr

    A great mix of current events, historical reference and personal experience; kept me engaged, while educating me about the movement. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the push and pull our nation's public lands have been through. By mixing personal experiences, with the history of our public lands and who was instrumental in preserving them for the people as a whole, I was engaged from start to finish. Public lands are for the people's use; hunters, fishers, hikers, A great mix of current events, historical reference and personal experience; kept me engaged, while educating me about the movement. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the push and pull our nation's public lands have been through. By mixing personal experiences, with the history of our public lands and who was instrumental in preserving them for the people as a whole, I was engaged from start to finish. Public lands are for the people's use; hunters, fishers, hikers, campers. Privatization prevents public use for all but the owner. Where as use that destroys the resource, also impacts the public's use. As a parent, I teach my children to be respectful, responsible and truthful; that our surroundings are fragile and it's our responsibility to ensure others have the opportunity we have to experience them as God and Mother Nature intended. This book points out how the political polarization of our nation's land is not new, it's been around for years! However it shows how there are times when public misunderstanding is caused by manipulation of information and underhanded deals that damage what outdoor and wilderness enthusiasts want to protect. Our Nation's lands are for this generation and each one after. Our public lands are not a Republican cause, nor a Democratic cause...its not political. This is an American cause, it's for all of us.

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