Monday, June 6, 2016

Middle Sister Mid-Month Review: The Man Who Built the Sierra Club

The Man Who Built the Sierra Club by Robert Wyss (Columbia University Press, June 2016)

The book is a lengthy and meticulously meticulously researched biography of David Brower of the Sierra Club. It is extensively footnoted, of which this nerdy scientist approves. I was particularly fascinated by the sometimes dry, extremely detailed play by play of the fight over Glen Canyon Dam, sitting, as I am, just a few hundred miles south of the dam, a fight that lingers and continues to impact modern water policy in the southwest. The discussion of Brewer's relationship with the great nature photographer Ansel Adams was also interesting, providing some insight in that creative genius' political and business side. As stated, sometimes dry, but with masterly command of the dozens of Sierra Club and government officials whose actions excited, infuriated, and sometimes angered Brower. His private life is summarized and certain issues not glossed over, but the overwhelming majority of the book is focused like a laser on the major environmental battles Brower waged (Glen Canyon Dam and Diablo Canyon among them, with others very familiar to residents of the West). Recommended to nature lovers, environmentalists, and others interested in the intersection of public policy and the environment.

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