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Reviews 67 wilderness the book explores. Unlike Richard Nelson’s The Island Within, which comprehends the killing of animals in ways borrowed from indigenous peoples, and unlike Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams, which angles on the far north by way of history, geography, field biology, ecology and, again, native peoples, John Haines goes it alone. This can lead, at times, to an ethos of enormous propor­ tions: “I made for myself a personal domain of which I was the sole ruler.” However, it is also this lonely solitude that releases voices from shadows and offers a rare perspective on our “lighted settlements,”where “shadows disperse to the outskirts . . . and the heavy smoke-dimmed dusk is silent." JAMES CROSSWHITE University of Oregon Women in theField: America’s Pioneering Women Naturalists. By Marcia Myers Bonta. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1991. 299 pages, $29.50/$13.95.) Women have long participated in natural history studies, but, according to author Marcia Myers Bonta, their secondary status in eighteenth-, nineteenthand early twentieth-century society, combined with the erroneous tendency to label them as “amateurs,” often caused their work to be overlooked. Some authors have sought to rectify this prejudice by detailing the lives of individual women naturalists; two recent examples include Maxine Benson’s biography of Martha Maxwell and Harriet Kofalk’s of Florence Merriam Bailey. But not until Bonta marshalled numerous far-flung sources to write the 25 biographical sketches included in Women in the Field: America’s Pioneering Women Naturalists have we had the opportunity to sample and compare, in one volume, the numerous ways American women have contributed to the development of the natural sciences. Bonta approaches her survey of women naturalists by categorizing them as either eighteenth-century pioneers who “slipped” into the study of natural history through accepted activities, such as gardening, painting and writing, field naturalists who delighted in all aspects of the natural world, or those who, as natural history began to fragment into separate disciplines, became botanists, entomologists, ornithologists and ecologists. Having established this frame­ work, Bonta proceeds to fill it with lively and informative portraits that focus on the women as individuals, field persons, professionals and friends. A number of patterns emerge from Bonta’s survey. Most of the women profiled were childless, had a male mentor early in their career and, although a few, such as botanist Alice Eastwood and entomologist Edith Patch, held profes­ sional positions, most of the women were field people, Annie Alexander for example, who tended to be modest about their accomplishments. These accom­ plishments, anything but modest, ranged from helping establish major muse­ 68 Western American Literature ums of natural history, making extensive collections, founding major move­ ments, such as Rachael Carson’s crusade against pesticide abuse, and generally sharing thejoy they found in nature with those around them. Bonta’s ability to recapture the sense of wonder and adventure that led these women naturalists to pursue their work will make this book appealing to many readers. Teachers and researchers with interests in women’s and natural history will find the book, with its numerous textual and bibliographic refer­ ences, illustrations and photographs, a particularly valuable resource. NANCYWARNER California Valley, California Devil’s Tower: Stories in Stone. By Mary Alice Gunderson. (Glendo, Wyoming: High Plains Press, 1988. 141 pages, $9.95.) Rising over a thousand feet above the Belle Fouche Valley in southeastern Wyoming, Devil’s Tower, a massive rock formation, “a creation of time and weather,”dominates the landscape. Like most such unusual natural formations it has been a subject of special interest and speculation since people first ventured upon it. Native Americans, to whom it has religious significance, developed myths that tell of its origins and meanings. Geologists explored, tested and strove to identify the formation’s makeup and origin, the latter still a matter of debate. Historians and anthropologists studied the waves of history that washed around it and its part in the culture of the people who came there. Artists and photographers continue to find it an inspiring subject, and rock climbers see it as a continual challenge. Devil’s Tower was the first National Monument in America and has been visited since 1937 by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 67-68
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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