On The Page: The Wilderness Warrior

I recently finished The Quiet World, Douglas Brinkley’s history of the wilderness preservation movement in Alaska, and since I really liked it I checked out the other existing volume in his Environmental History of America series: The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.

Last winter I read Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life and found myself wanting to know more about TR and Gifford Pinchot. The Wilderness Warrior definitely filled in some of the blanks left by A Strenuous Life regarding TR’s environmental policy. Like The Quiet World, Brinkley’s bias towards seeing TR as a hero for the wilderness movement was evident (as was his opinion that wilderness should be prioritized over commercial interests). I am glad that I had read a more comprehensive biography of TR first.

Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir; Yosemite, 1903
Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir; Yosemite, 1903

In many ways Wilderness Warrior was a much easier read than The Quiet World—because it focused on just TR, it jumped around less in time and place than The Quiet World did. As with all biographies, I wonder just how complete a picture I’m getting of the person I’m reading about—how do you condense a life down to a book?

Wilderness Warrior was full of anecdotes about TR that I hadn’t heard before. (I meant to make notes of these to share with you all to illustrate the awesomeness of the book but I didn’t…oops.) What was most amazing though, is the sheer number of sites that TR helped to preserve in this country. He created or enlarged 150 National Forest areas. He created 51 Federal Bird Reservations. He created 18 National Monuments using the Antiquities Act of 1906; including the Grand Canyon and Mt. Olympus (later, my favorite national park: Olympic).

The Wilderness Warrior was another excellent read. I’m looking forward to the next installment in his Environmental History of America series!

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