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1 0 8 W e s t e r n A m e r ic a n L it e r a t u r e S p r in g 2 0 0 5 Qifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism. By Char Miller. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2001. 458 pages, $35.00/$ 11.99. Reviewed by Corey Lewis University of Nevada, Reno Gifford Pinchot and the Making ofModem Environmentalism presents readers with an extremely sympathetic and detailed biography of Pinchot’s life and work, as well as his influence on the American environmental movement. In this book, Char Miller does for Gifford Pinchot what Michael Cohen did for John Muir in his widely acclaimed biography, The Pathless Way (1984). Primary sources and biographical accounts bring Pinchot to life, while cultural and literary analyses of his work and its influence on American political life provide readers with an in-depth understanding of Pinchot’s historical significance. In parts 1 and 2, Miller provides an extremely thorough biographical account of Pinchot’s family, early influences, education, and first forays into pol­ itics, including his dispute with Muir over the fate of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. These initial explorations into Pinchot’s youth provide useful insights into the man he would become and the views he would come to represent. With such a well-laid foundation, Miller continues to provide excellent biographical mate­ rial in parts 3 and 4 relating to Pinchot’s later life and political work. In addi­ tion, however, Pinchot’s relationship to, and influence upon, American politics and public lands is explored and developed in a number of useful ways. While Miller initially accepts the traditional contrapositioning of Pinchot and Muir, he also complicates this oversimplified binary. “Although their con­ frontation over Hetch Hetchy is legendary,” writes Miller, “the very legend has turned these two actors into caricatures, foils who serve as polar opposites in a dramatic narrative” (5). Although Miller does write with an engaging style and often relates narratives in fine dramatic manner, he is clearly attempting, here, to replace cultural legend with historical fact. Miller consistently turns to spe­ cific instances in Pinchot’s life to explain the origins of his later environmental philosophy. These biographical vignettes offer readers useful insights into the personal motivations and private realizations that drove the public Pinchot. They aid readers in understanding and appreciating both the pragmatic real­ ism behind Pinchot’s “the greatest good for the greatest number of people” and the far-reaching vision of his efforts to strengthen the Forest Service and increase federal control, and conservation, of public lands. While environmen­ talists today may be quicker to align Pinchot with the misdirected Wise Use Movement, Miller demonstrates that within his own time period, Pinchot was, in fact, directly opposed to many in that movement. Miller reminds us to judge Pinchot from within his own historical time period rather than from ours, an apt warning for many environmental critics today. B O O K REVIEW S Although Miller is more sympathetic in his treatment of Pinchot than many scholars and could have explored more directly the problematic ways in which his views have surfaced recently, that is perhaps the task of another book. Here, Miller remains focused on providing readers with a clearer picture of the past and, in this effort, offers a significant contribution to our understanding. My M other’s Lovers. By Joy Passanante. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2002. 220 pages, $17.00. Reviewed by Jane Varley Muskingum College, New Concord, Ohio It seems an unlikely scenario, yet somehow familiar: long-haired outcasts living in a mountain town, coming and going from a purple house with an old bus parked out back, the enduring emblem of their journey to the West. How many remote western communities are accented with symbols of dubious ide­ alism and culture clash? Joy Passanante’s novel draws us into this life, as told from the point of view of Lake Rose Davis, daughter of former hippies who had moved to northern Idaho in the name of the countercultural movement of the 1960s. Exposition is handled cleverly, the narrative sometimes switching into an intimate oral mode...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 108-109
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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