Nature's Allies (Hardcover)

Eight Conservationists Who Changed Our World

By Larry Nielsen

Island Press, 9781610917957, 272pp.

Publication Date: February 2, 2017

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (3/6/2018)

List Price: 28.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of big environmental challenges—but we need inspiration more than ever. With political leaders who deny climate change, species that are fighting for their very survival, and the planet’s last places of wilderness growing smaller and smaller, what can a single person do? In Nature’s Allies, Larry Nielsen uses the stories of conservation pioneers to show that through passion and perseverance, we can each be a positive force for change.
In eight engaging and diverse biographies—John Muir, Ding Darling, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Chico Mendes, Billy Frank Jr., Wangari Maathai, and Gro Harlem Brundtland—we meet individuals who have little in common except that they all made a lasting mark on our world. Some famous and some little known to readers, they spoke out to protect wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, rainforests, and wetlands. They fought for social justice and exposed polluting practices. They marched, wrote books, testified before Congress, performed acts of civil disobedience, and, in one case, were martyred for their defense of nature. Nature’s Allies pays tribute to them all as it rallies a new generation of conservationists to follow in their footsteps.
These vivid biographies are essential reading for anyone who wants to fight for the environment against today’s political opposition. Nature’s Allies will inspire students, conservationists, and nature lovers to speak up for nature and show the power of one person to make a difference.  

About the Author

Larry A. Nielsen is Professor of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University. He has worked in land grant universities—including earlier tenures Virginia Tech and Penn State—for forty years, as a faculty member and administrator, eventually becoming provost of North Carolina State University before returning to teaching and writing in 2009. He is a Fellow and Past President of the American Fisheries Society. He is author, coauthor, or coeditor of six books, including Ecosystem Management, published by Island Press, and Provost, a memoir and an analysis of university administration. Among many professional service roles, he served on the board of directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment for more than a decade. With Sharon, his wife of forty-seven years, he lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Praise For Nature's Allies: Eight Conservationists Who Changed Our World

"Nielsen...celebrates the work of eight conservationists in the U.S. and abroad in this engaging series of biographical sketches...Paying tribute to their battles and accomplishments, Nielsen effectively showcases the passion and persistence of a remarkable group of individuals." 

— Publishers Weekly

"A fine primer on some of the most inspirational figures in the history of the environmental movement. Nielsen, dean of the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University, has the command of a practiced lecturer, and his biographical sketches of famous environmentalists zip by like NatGeo profiles."

— Sierra

"The ethnic and gender diversity of the subjects is a major factor in the book's favor...this work represents a step in the direction of correcting the erasure of non-white, non-American environmentalism from mainstream American dialogue." 

— Foreword

"Riveting and inspiring...[Nielsen] does a superb job of outlining the lives of these heroic environmentalists."

— Manhattan Book Review

"Moving stories, all eight of them."

— Wildlife Activist

"Nielsen's finely etched portraits are not the end of the line like so many dusty pictures on a wall. They are rather the forward to volumes to be written about the heroes and heroines of the Great Work ahead."

— Ecology

"This book is an interesting, informing read... highly recommended...Readers will likely find this book inspirational, if not motivational."

— Electronic Green Journal

"In this engaging book, Larry Nielsen...deftly captures the lives and careers of eight individuals whose mark on the environment endures...Nature's Allies succeeds as an introduction to these eight lives and in how to write engaging environmental biography. It would work splendidly in teaching environmental history, studies, or ethics."

— Environmental History

"This book stands out for the ethnic and gender diversity of its subjects. Nielsen...showcases the passion and dedication the activists had for their causes and presents these profiles as a way to inspire dedication to activism in others."

— Choice

"This book exudes inspiration. It shows how anyone with a love of the natural environment—and how it is used to support human endeavor—can make a contribution to conservation. Easy to read, hard to put down, and deeply motivating."

— Simon Brockington, Executive Secretary, International Whaling Commission

"Nature's Allies is much more than a collection of fascinating stories about the lives of eight great conservationists. It's an account of what it takes to bring about major change. It's a must-read, not only for students of conservation but for all who are interested in the future of this planet and improving the quality of life."

— Michael Dombeck, former Chief, US Forest Service, and former Director, US Bureau of Land Management

"Nielsen's captivating stories humanize eight inspiring individuals whose early paths in life are not that different from today's students reading Nature's Allies. That people from rather ordinary and diverse backgrounds can have a revolutionary impact on conservation policy decisions and private actions is an important message to motivate youth to act on their passions."

— Barbara A. Knuth, Senior Vice Provost and Dean, Cornell University