Ever since I stumbled across the John Muir Woods in California over a decade ago, John Muir has been a source of inspiration. He writes from the heart to the heart and his words are laced with joy. Despite a repressive Christian fundamentalist upbringing he never cowered or let cynicism colour his world. Whether it was in Scotland in his first 10 years, or in Wisconsin grafting on a frontier farm in the mid 19th Century, he found what he needed in the natural world. He was a deeply spiritual man too. Over time he grew closer to God in meadows and mountains, rather than in the pews of a church.
I have always been bemused as to why John Muir is not better known in Britain. In America he is a legend, but in the British Isles he is largely forgotten. Yet what he faced, and how he faced it, speaks as clearly today as then. Muir witnessed the destruction of North America for profit. He saw the clear-felling of the great forests, the extermination of wildlife, the ravaging of mountains for ore and the grabbing of resources everywhere and anywhere. In his lifetime agriculture and industry spread throughout the continent, and it laid waste to nations of native peoples and the wild places that sustained them. But instead of retreating in despair he took the president of the United States out camping for 3 nights in the Yosemite and secured the foundation of the world’s national parks. To me, John Muir is an inspirational hero for nature and a model for activism. He was a kind, spiritual man and by all accounts a lot of fun. If you've not met him yet - you have a wealth of wonderful literature awaiting.
My book is an introduction to John Muir and his beliefs. It traces his story from Dunbar in Scotland to the Sierra Nevada in California, charting his successes and failures as well as his legacy of protected lands around the world. Here are some reviews: