The National Park Service marked a century of stewardship at the end of August. If a celebratory visit to one the nation’s parks, forests or monuments is not possible, you can still make good use of your backpack by filling it with a few books about our natural resources. The books profiled below offer a glimpse of the DePaul Library’s many books about National Parks and the environment.
Theodore Roosevelt is considered the most influential conservation president. But his groundbreaking legacy often overshadows the more complicated history of the executive branch’s uneven environmental leadership. Otis L. Graham, Jr., a historian, explores the environmental engagement and policy decisions of the 22 presidents since 1891, from Harrison through Obama (up to 2014), and the resulting scorecard is not optimistic. Graham appraises the environmental engagement of these presidents as green (including pale green) or brown, with 12 exhibiting shades of green and 11 clearly brown. Why does this add up to 23? Nixon landed in both categories! Presidents and the American Environment is thoroughly researched and engagingly written—a valuable addition to your pre-election reading list. Available at the John T. Richardson Library, Call Number 363.70561097 G7414P2015.
Naturalists and intellectuals also played an important role in the early history of the National Parks, especially John Muir. In fact, Muir was influential in the development of Teddy Roosevelt’s environmental philosophy. Muir’s expressive writing about Yosemite and Yellowstone in Our National Parks published in 1909, demonstrates why he remains one of the most enduring voices for the preservation of the nation’s land. “In this book…I have done the best I could to show forth the beauty, grandeur, and all-embracing usefulness of our wild mountain forest reservations and parks, with a view to inciting the people to come and enjoy them, and get them into their hearts, that so at length their preservation and right use might be made sure” (preface). Available at the John T. Richardson Library, Call Number 917.3 M95
The power of visual rhetoric is on display in Observation Points: The Visual Poetics of National Park. Thomas Patin (editor) selected the title of the book’s introduction by design: the double meaning of “Naturalizing Rhetoric” reflects the two types of essays presented in this anthology. The first category explores rhetoric that is both obvious and inconspicuous, such as scenic overlooks and National Park guidebooks and brochures that stage-manage the nature experience of park visitors. The second series of essays reveal how “naturalizing” is accomplished through rhetoric, for example the construction of national identity by the Mount Rushmore orientation films shown since 1965. The essay authors are professors from diverse fields including communication studies, geography, literature, art history, political science, English, social sciences and German. Available at the Loop Library, Call Number 719.320973 O141.