Thursday, September 10, 2015

Archdruid Encounters

I have had a goodreads account for a while, but have used it very little. When I was prompted to write a review, this book came to mind, as it helped to change the course of my life. I still recommend it, 30+ years later.

Encounters with the ArchdruidEncounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book changed my life, I suppose. It was one of the very first environmental books I read -- assigned by professors in two different classes. By cosmic coincidence, we got to meet the "Archdruid" near the end of the course because one of the professors sat next to him on a plane. At the time, he had been drummed out of Sierra Club for being too radical, but the club eventually came around, and I met him again years later at a Sierra Club event.

The book itself set me on the path to the career I have 30 years later -- environmental geography -- and made me a fan of John McPhee and his approach to scholarship. Whatever he writes about -- and it is a wide range -- he approaches through individuals he finds who are deeply embedded in the topic.

In this case, the main individual is David Brower, champion of wilderness. Three separate segments of the book describe journeys to wild places -- an island, a mountain, and a lake -- with Brower and and engineer or developer with ideas about changing the place. It is honest and deep, and still important all these years later.

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