"A rallying cry in the age of climate change." --Robert RedfordAn environmental clarion call, told through bestselling author David Gessner's wilderness road trip inspired by America's greatest conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt. "Leave it as it is," Theodore Roosevelt announced while viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time. "The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it." Roosevelt's rallying cry signaled the beginning of an environmental fight that still wages today. To reconnect with the American wilderness and with the president who courageously protected it, acclaimed nature writer and New York Times bestselling author David Gessner embarks on a great American road trip guided by Roosevelt's crusading environmental legacy. Gessner travels to the Dakota badlands where Roosevelt awakened as a naturalist; to Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon where Roosevelt escaped during the grind of his reelection tour; and finally, to Bears Ears, Utah, a monument proposed by Native Tribes that is embroiled in a national conservation fight. Along the way, Gessner questions and reimagines Roosevelt's vision for today. As Gessner journeys through the grandeur of our public lands, he tells the story of Roosevelt's life as a pioneering conservationist, offering an arresting history, a powerful call to arms, and a profound meditation on our environmental future.
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- ISBN-13: 9781982105044
- ISBN-10: 1982105046
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publish Date: August 2020
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds
- Page Count: 352
Leave It as It Is
Lovers of our national parks and monuments may be familiar with President Theodore Roosevelt’s speech at the Grand Canyon in 1903: “Leave it as it is,” he implored the crowd, then went to work on saving 230 million acres for what became known as “America’s best idea.” Now, as these public lands come increasingly under siege by private interests abetted by lobbyists and politicians, essayist, nature writer and environmental activist David Gessner asks what those words meant then and if they matter now. On a quest to understand Teddy Roosevelt and his passions, Leave It as It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness digs deep into a cultural and political history as complex as Roosevelt himself. Insightful, observant and wry, writing with his heart on his well-traveled sleeve and a laser focus on the stunning beauty of the parks, Gessner shares an epic road trip through these storied lands.
With his newly college-graduated nephew riding shotgun, Gessner begins where Roosevelt’s love affair with the West first took hold, in the South Dakota Badlands. Riven with grief after his wife and mother died on the same day late in the 19th century, the future president left behind his young daughter and searched for solace as a rancher amid the wildlife and wilderness. And while these 21st-century campers find that much has changed—Gessner bemoans the “Disneyfication” of such areas—they celebrate the fact that bison surround (and thoroughly blemish) their car as the animals wander by their campsite. It was Roosevelt, after all, who saved this iconic beast from extinction.
Weaving an often candidly critical biography of the 26th president through this account of the parks he created, Gessner eventually arrives at Bears Ears in southeastern Utah. After conferring with the Native American tribes for whom these lands are ancestral and sacred, President Barack Obama proclaimed it a national monument as he left office in 2016. In 2017, President Donald Trump promptly shrank the area by 85%, essentially inviting commercial interests to encroach.
Today, “leave it as it is” may no longer be possible for the parks. Can they still be saved from corrupting human interests? Roosevelt, Gessner insists, would know what to do.