"Faith in Nature: Environmentalism as Religious Quest" by Thomas R. Dunlap.
$24.95 cloth. Weyerhaeuser Environmental
Books/University of Washington Press, 2004.
Some books simply do not lend themselves to a brief review. This is one. It defies review because it is a review of the writings, thinkers, and doers of the American environmental movement. Dunlap weaves a seamless philosophical trail, from the Enlightenment of the 17th century through Romanticism as interpreted by Emerson, to set the stage for all who were to later shape the modern environmental movement. All the actors are present--from Thoreau and Muir to Rachael Carson, Aldo Leopold, Barry Commoner, and Edward Abbey--to mention only a few of many Dunlop casts in his quest to understand "environmentalism as an expression of the human impulse toward religion."
But Dunlap is more than a historian of environmental philosophy. He is a clear-eyed and practical critic of the institutions that environmentalism has spawned, succinctly describing their roles in defining the diverse perspectives of American culture toward nature.
This is an important book for the times in which we live. It offers something for everyone to disdain, especially those demanding a specific way to salvation, be it pure wilderness or the end of consumerism. Nor does he claim many victories for the movement in its crusade to change the World.
But no one can deny Dunlop's faith that "environmentalism has embarked on a great enterprise," one that "seeks dreams large enough to inspire individuals and wise enough to guide humanity, dreams that speak to our lives and the wonderful world in which we live them."
Book reviews editor Carl Reidel is "retiring" after 11 years: We wish him the best.
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2005|
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