Return to Wild America
A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul
By Scott Weidensaul
(North Point Press, Hardcover, 9780865476882, 416pp.)
Publication Date: October 20, 2005
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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In 1953, birding guru Roger Tory Peterson and noted British naturalist James Fisher set out on what became a legendary journey-a one hundred day trek over 30,000 miles around North America. They traveled from Newfoundland to Florida, deep into the heart of Mexico, through the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, and into Alaska's Pribilof Islands. Two years later, Wild America, their classic account of the trip, was published.
On the eve of that book's fiftieth anniversary, naturalist Scott Weidensaul retraces Peterson and Fisher's steps to tell the story of wild America today. How has the continent's natural landscape changed over the past fifty years? How have the wildlife, the rivers, and the rugged, untouched terrain fared? The journey takes Weidensaul to the coastal communities of Newfoundland, where he examines the devastating impact of the Atlantic cod fishery's collapse on the ecosystem; to Florida, where he charts the virtual extinction of the great wading bird colonies that Peterson and Fisher once documented; to the Mexican tropics of Xilitla, which have become a growing center of ecotourism since Fisher and Peterson's exposition. And perhaps most surprising of all, Weidensaul finds that much of what Peterson and Fisher discovered remains untouched by the industrial developments of the last fifty years. Poised to become a classic in its own right, Return to Wild America is a sweeping survey of the natural soul of North America today.
Scott Weidensaul is the author of The Ghost with Trembling Wings (NPP, 2002) and Living on the Wind (NPP, 1999). He lives in the Pennsylvania Appalachians.
"With Living on the Wind Scott Weidensaul proved his ability as a reporter and a storyteller; this unsettling but also lovely account of the wildness left in our midst confirms his place in the first rank of the country's naturalist writers." --Bill McKibben, author The End of Nature and Wandering Home
"Peterson and Fisher's Wild America was one of the all-time great nature books. On the golden anniversary of its publication, Scott Weidensaul, one of the greatest living nature writers, proves himself a worthy successor to the original authors as he examines what has been lost and celebrates what remains of America's wild nature. Part investigative reporting, part lyrical celebration, this is one of the most important books of the decade, and it should be required reading for all who love the outdoors." --Kenn Kaufman, author of Kaufman Field Guides
"News from the natural world is so rarely heartening these days that Scott Weidensaul's bracing inventory of America's wild places and all that still lives in them comes as a bit of a shock. With a keen eye for all that we've lost and all that yet remains, this book is a tale both cautionary and optimistic. Best of all is the presence on every page of Weidensaul himself, an enthusiastic observer who gives generously of his own sense of awe." --William Souder, author of Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America
Praise for The Ghost With Trembling Wings:
"A thoughtful examination of the machinery of extinction . . . By turns harrowing and elegiac, thrilling and informative." -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Fascinating exploration of the mysteries of the extinction, occasional rediscovery and potential scientific reincarnation of long-vanished animals . . . If you like the late Stephen Jay Gould, one of the popularizers of modern science, you will love Weidensaul." -Eric Sharp, Detroit Free Press
"He travels the globe. . .having adventures most of us can only dream about . . . It is to Weidensaul's great credit as a writer that he breathes such life into both the hope and the reality." -Susan Larson, The Times-Picayune
"Even cynical readers might find themselves experiencing twinges of idealism."
-Dean Neprud, Minneapolis Star-Tribune