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[Introduction] During the summer of 1978 my family and I exchanged houses with an academic family from San Rafael, California, who came to Oxford for Summer School. Early on in our Bay Area sojourn I visited an old friend and fellow Welshman, David Hooson, who was then dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Berkeley after having been a professor of geography there for nearly two decades. As we reminisced over lunch on the terrace of the Faculty Club the conversation got around to Carl Sauer, who had died some three years earlier, and whom I had never met. “You know,” David said, “I’ve had his professional correspondence cataloged and placed in the Bancroft Library. You should look at it. As a historical geographer you would very probably find it interesting.” Some days later I obtained my reader’s card and serendipitously selected Sauer’s correspondence with people whom I had known, such as Andrew Clark, Glenn Trewartha, Richard Hartshorne, and H. C. Darby. It was a reve­ lation. Here was a true polymath with ideas on many topics that seemed to jump off the pages, written in a prose that was pithy and memorable. Here was the unmistakable stamp of a remarkable man. I was fascinated, excited, and from that moment on completely hooked on what I read. I warmed to the man and the breadth and intensity of his intellectual concerns, which ranged from pre-Columbian population numbers and the entry of early Americans into the continent to plant domestication, the place of deep time in geography, the question of what was “culture,” the exploitation of poorer societies, destruction of the environment, and the role of the individual scholar and scholarship in an increasingly academically bureaucratic age. Most of these topics are live issues, the last three particularly, that have engaged the efforts of environmentalists, development experts, and those xvi Introduction with a general concern about the quality of life in an ever-accelerating and complex modern world. Of the thousands of letters, I decided to concentrate on those that threw light on Sauer’s ideas on the role of time in geographical studies, and on the making and implementation of one of the first overtly environmental gatherings—the symposium “Man’s Role in Changing the Face of the Earth,” held at Princeton in 1955 (subsequently published under the same name).1 Two articles soon ensued.2 And there Carl Sauer lay while I pursued other research interests. Then, twenty years after my first encounter with Sauer, I received an invitation to write a biographical entry on him for the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences.3 The biographical volume, which comprises 149 entries, ranges from Aristotle to Adorno, Montesquieu to Marx, and Descartes to Darwin, but includes only one geographer —Carl Sauer. My interest in his work was rekindled and widened, and since I was retiring in a few years, the time seemed ripe to think about a full biography of this remarkable man. In 2000 I went to see Sauer’s son, Jonathan, in Los Angeles and spent a pleasant couple of afternoons with him and his wife, Hilda, as they reminisced . Then in 2002, 2003, and 2009 the opportunity came to spend many months in Berkeley working in the Bancroft again and talking with Carl Sauer’s daughter, Elizabeth Sauer FitzSimmons. I am grateful to her and her daughters, Margaret Irene FitzSimmons, Ellen Elizabeth FitzSimmons Porzig, and Laura Wightman FitzSimmons, for their hospitality and many kindnesses, especially their generosity in giving me access to Sauer’s family correspondence and other material on which so much of this book is based. To have their backing and encouragement meant a lot to me. Others who made the Berkeley visits memorable and pleasant were David Lowenthal and Mary Alice Lowenthal for the loan of their house; David Hooson and Margaret Mackenzie for sustenance, intellectual and otherwise; Betty Parsons and Peggy Woodring; and Winifred (Westher) Hess, Sauer’s former student and department secretary, who was a valuable source concerning his working habits. Bill Denevan, a real Sauer buff, provided much information. It would be invidious to pick out any of the staff of the manuscript room in the Bancroft, since all, without exception, were superlatively helpful. Elsewhere, and at different times, Norman Thrower in Los Angeles was a Introduction xvii source of information and hospitality, Donald Meinig at Syracuse the same, and very early on Peter Haggett at Bristol. Ronald Grim, then at the Library...


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