As meaningful today as it was when Sigurd F. Olson wrote it, The Singing Wilderness is an essential antidote to the trials of modern life. This unique volume, beautifully illustrated by Francis Lee Jaques, will be a welcome addition to any nature lover's bookshelf or backpack.
Olson (1899-1982) was more than simply a nature writer, he was an activist who became president of the Wilderness Society and of the National Parks Association and helped lead the fight to preserve Dinosaur National Monument, the Florida Everglades, Voyageurs National Park and many other prized territories. This first biography is notable particularly for the illumination Backes (Canoe Country) brings to Olson's early influences. Reared by an exuberant Baptist preacher, Olson favored saving wild places to saving souls, but his sermonizing borrowed the absolutes of his fire-and-brimstone father. In 1956, when his first book, The Singing Wilderness became a New York Times bestseller, Olson gave up his careers in teaching and geology, opting instead to spread the word of Thoreau, John Burroughs and W.H. Hudson. In his new guise as a professional conservationist, he was inspired by or inspired the likes of Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall and his good friend, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Olson believed that sin consisted of an underlying separation from God or nature, and was greatly influenced by Teilhard de Chardin's concept of the noosphere, an evolutionary "thought spectrum" surrounding the earth. Olson, who died outdoors while snowshoeing, had left in his typewriter the first words of a new book: "A new adventure is coming up and I'm sure it will be a good one." This smoothly written, congenial biography will engage readers through its compelling parallel narrative of a man's unfolding commitment to his own enlightenment and to the public good. (Sept.) FYI: To coincide with A Wilderness Within, Minnesota is publishing paperback editions of Olson's The Singing Wilderness ($14.95 ISBN 0-8166-2992-7) and Listening Point ($14.95 -2996-X) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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August 12, 1997
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