The tension between nature and culture, which accompanies the rise of any large society, has become a subject of great concern in our time. In this compelling study, Gunther Barth, acclaimed author of City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America, identifies fleeting moments of concord between nature and culture in the course of American history. During the search for the Wilderness Passage, the progress of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the building of park cemeteries and big city parks, Americans realized that nature was not merely a force to be reckoned with, not merely a resource to be exploited, but also an integral component of their lives. Through the engineering of nature and culture in the urban environment, the energetic attempts to conserve large-scale nature in the United States emerged as an offspring of the big city. Heightening our understanding of the historical complexity of the relationship between nature and culture, and suggesting that harmony between the two is a mark of civilization, this original study will be an invaluable guide to anyone concerned with the quality of life in America, past and future.
"Well written and informative."--Florida Historical Quarterly
"Barth has written a provocative and perceptive account of the American encounter with landscapes wild and civilized...A significant reinterpretation of American exploration and settlement...Highly recommended for students of American History, American Studies, and Environmental History."--Ohio History
"The range of historical and literary references that he brings to bear on his analysis of the documents lends a striking immediacy to the stories he has to tell."--American Studies International
"Public historians...will find this book to be a worthy addition to their library of environmental and cultural histories."--The Public Historian
"The book contains much that is fascinating among its details...Barth is most engaging when distilling sources into narrative."--Journal of the Early Republic
"[A] compact, thoughtful essay on the relationship between humans and the natural environment in North America from the age of exploration to the twentieth century."--American Historical Review