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Book Chapters Featuring John Muir


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Note: Items shown in boldface are believed to be available for purchase at the time this bibliography was last revised. No attempt has been made to include entries from encyclopedias or similar reference works.


Book Chapters Featuring John Muir     [up to table of contents]

Archer, Jules, To Save the Earth: The American Environmental Movement (Chapter on John Muir) (New York: Viking, 1998). Illustrated, lists environmental organizations you can join, bibliography, index, 198 pp.
This book for young people features lively biographies of four environmentalists: John Muir, Rachel Carson, David McTaggart, and Dave Foreman, wrapping up with a "Short History of the Environmental Movement," and concluding with a chapter on "The Fight to Save the Earth Today and Tomorrow." The chapter on John Muir begins with Muir's exciting adventure with Stickeen on a perilous glacier in Alaska, then continues to tell all of Muir's life in a very lively way. Does an outstanding job of explaining his role as a pioneer of the conservation movement and as the founder of our national park system. Other chapters cover Rachel Carson, the biologist who brought widespread visibility to the effects of pesticides and chemical wastes; David McTaggart, the organizer of Greenpeace, who introduced the tactic of nonviolent resistance into the struggle, while Dave Foreman, co-founder and former leader of the activist group Earth First!, shook up a movement hat had grown complacent.

Barrus, Clara, "A Portrait of Muir" in A Treasury of the Sierra Nevada ed. by Robert Leonard Reid (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 1983).(reprint from Century Magazine , August, 1910).
A first-hand account by a woman -- and noted writer -- who accompanied Muir and his friend John Burroughs on visits to the Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite Valley in 1909.

Beard, Annie S., "John Muir" in Our Foreign-Born Citizens (New York, Thomas Y. Crowell. Co., 1955).
Rather dated but useful for showing Muir along with a number of other foreign-born persons who made major contributions to America, including John James Audubon, Louis Agassiz, Alexander Graham Bell, etc.: "Muir was Scotch to the backbone, yet America claims him as her own..."

Blassingame, Wyatt, "John Muir" in Naturalist-Explorers (New York, Franklin Watts, Inc., 1964). Illus. by Fred Sweney.
Juvenile biography including chapters on Carl Linnaeus, William Bartram, Alexander Von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, etc. An educational book, still relevant despite its age.

Brooks, Paul, "The Two Johns": Burroughs and Muir" in Speaking for Nature: How Literary Naturalists from Henry Thoreau to Rachel Carson have Shaped America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1980).
Comparison and contrast is often the best way to gain insight into a writer, and this book is excellent for featuring a multitude of important "literary naturalists." The chapter on Muir and Burroughs itself furthers this purpose, highlighting how different these two writers were and yet how important both were for many nature writers who came after them.

Cohen, Michael P., The History of the Sierra Club 1892-1970 (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988)
The first chapter deals with John Muir and the founding of the Sierra Club.

Cohen, Michael Peter, "A Brittle Thesis: A Ghost Dance: A Flower Opening" in The Wilderness Condition: Essays on Environment and Civilization Edited by Max Oelschlaeger (Washington, D.C., Island Press, 1992).
The author of The Pathless Way re-considers his original thesis about Muir in light of his further understanding of ecological history and the history of conservation.

Corcoran, Peter Blaze, "John Muir" in Palmer, Joy A., Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment (London/New York: Routledge, 2001).
Academically- oriented but brief text addresses key events in the story of Muir's life, which "have explanatory power in the raising of this mighty, righteous voice of the mountains," and his philosophy. Corcoran correctly recognizes that Muir saw in the wilderness "the source of humanity's spiritual health and wholeness," quoting extensively from Muir's famous statement which was to inspire Aldo Leopold, Arne Naess, John Seed, and contemporary deep ecologists: "The world we are told was made especially for man - a presumption not supported by the facts..." Corcoran enlightens his brief analysis with insights from Edwin Way Teale and Michael P. Cohen, observing that Muir "was much ahead of his time in promoting action based on ecological responsibility." Unfortunately, this 4 and a half pages of text is marred by several mistakes, incorrectly stating that the Sierra Club was founded in 1898 [actually it was 1892], that Muir was the founder, and that Muir was in Canada to avoid being drafted into the Civil War. While citing the John Muir Exhibit in several places, the text gives the URL incorrectly three separate times and never does get it right! However, Corcoran correctly assesses Muir's influence: "His philosophical contributions to the conception of wilderness, to the democratic ethical responsibility of humans towards all life forms, and to the ecological consciousness of a vast eternal unity are immense. Earlier, among Americans, only Thoreau spoke with such moral authority; later only Carson had such an influence on environmental thinking."

Cornelius, Brother Fidelius, Keith, Old Master of California (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons (1942).
Several chapters provide insights to Muir's life-long friendship with the painter William Keith, including stories of their mountain adventures together, Muir's thoughts on Keith's paintings, and Keith's defense of Muir during the campaign to return Yosemite Valley to the federal government to become part of Yosemite National Park.

Dolan, Jr., Edward F., Famous Builders of California (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1967)
Chapter Five of this six-chapter book for young readers features John Muir. Provides a lucid and brief overview of Muir's life. Other "famous builders" included in the book are Junipero Serra, John Charles Fremont, John Sutter, Henry Wells and William G. Fargo, and Luther Burbank. Includes introduction, Further Reading, and Index.

Dorman, Robert L., A Word for Nature: Four Pioneering Environmental Advocates, 1845-1913. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998)
Four of the most important figures in the history of American conservation are featured in this scholarly work: George Perkins Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and John Wesley Powell.

Farquhar, Francis P., History of the Sierra Nevada (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965)
Chapter 16, "John Muir and the Range of Light," of this definitive work focuses on Muir's relationships with the mountains he loved so well.

Frankiel, Sandra Sizer, California's Spiritual Frontiers: Religious Alternatives in Anglo-Protestantism, 1850-1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988). Full text online: http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft1z09n7fq/
Chapter 8, "Into the Sierras" discusses John Muir's religious and philosophical views. The author contends that Muir believed the mistake of traditional religion was in letting the beauties of spiritual things become points of dispute and arguing over details such as who should be allowed to take communion or how baptism should be performed. By contrast, Muir advocated that we appreciate God directly through sensitivity to nature. Muir called on Californians to restore their spiritual as well as their physical health by rediscovering the world beyond civilization.

Visions of a Wild America Pioneers of Preservation Heacox, Kim, "A Different Drummer: The Prophets of Conservation," in Visions of a Wild America: Pioneers of Preservation (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1996)
Filled with the usual stunning National Geographic nature photos, this book tells the stories of six pioneering conservationists who fought to preserve the American wilderness: John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Biographical narratives are interwoven with extensive quotes from each of these luminaries. The author's historical approach helps to put each person into context. The chapter on Muir, for example, also describes Henry David Thoreau, and a bit about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Theodore Roosevelt.

Hoagland, Edward, "In Praise of John Muir" in Balancing Acts (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).
An engaging literary exploration of Muir's writing, compared with other American writer-naturalists of his time and ours.

Kellogg, Charles, "With John Muir in the Yosemite", Chapter 8, in Charles Kellogg, The Nature Singer: His Book (Morgan Hill, CA: Pacific Science Press, 1929).
A two-page chapter tells of Kellogg's acquaintance with John Muir. Two photographs are included, one of the author with John Muir. Kellogg walked 111 miles from Sonora via Hetch hetchy to Yosemite Valley in 1912. Upon meeting Muir, Kellogg expressed his enthusiasm for the beauty of Hetch Hetchy Valley. "Muir answered with tears in his eyes that the political vandals were proposing to dam the entire valley and use the water for the 'dear babies of San Francisco.' 'Yes,' he said with vehemence, 'they would drown the valley and blot out all that beauty and the politicians would divide the plunder!' He knew it was the water power they were after and not primarily drinking water for San Francisco." Later Kellogg discussed with Muir the dog story he was writing, lamenting his difficulty in writing it. Muir's advice was: "Don't be in a hurry, it took me thirty years before I could get Stickeen across that narrow ice bridge." Kellogg then writes, "The next day I read 'Stickeen' again and I felt sure it was worth thirty years to wait for such a masterpiece."

Krensky, Stephen, Four Against the Odds: The Struggle to Save our Environment (Chapter on John Muir) (New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1992). Illustrated, paperback, bibliography, index, 105 pp.
This book for young readers is about four people who realized the peril to our environment, and vowed to do something about it: John Muir, Rachel Carson, Lois Gibbs, and Chico Mendes. The John Muir chapter nicely tells the story of Muir's life and his campaign to preserve America's wilderness, including Yosemite National Park. Each chapter incorporates valuable historical context that clarifies the political and economic opposition each of these environmentalists faced. Although each of the four people covered in this book came from different times and backgrounds, each of them bravely acted to protect the environment in the face of great opposition by those with economic interests. Other Chapters cover Rachel Carson, the biologist who fought the chemical industry to tell them how pesticides were not only killing insects, but wildlife and people as well; Lois Gibbs, who battled bureaucracy and ignorance to help her neighbors in Love Canal, a neighborhood built on a toxic waste dump; and Chico Mendes, a rubber tapper in Brazil who was murdered because he fought to save the rainforest.

Book Cover of Lines on the Land by Scott Herring Herring, Scott, "Written Rocks" in Lines on the Land: Writers, Art, and the National Parks , (Charlottsville & London: University of Virginia Press, 2004).
This book traces the evolution of literary and artistic responses about National Parks, from early figures like John Muir and Thomas Moran to later observers of the parks such as Ansel Adams, Edward Abbey, and Rick Bass. The text is punctuated by autobiographical passages in which Herring relates the book's chief themes to his own experiences in Yellowstone National Park. Chapter 2, "Written Rocks" focuses on John Muir's contribution to our perception of national parks. Muir, according to Herring, gave the parks a cultural prestige, emphasizing a celebratory tone. Later writes would gradually shift to an indignation over the perceived corruption of the national park ideal. For Herring, Muir's focus celebrates the parks as a work of art in their own right. For Muir, the national parks are sacred, a place that must be protected above all others, because "it is here that the voice of God speaks most clearly."
Press Release from University of Virginia

Merrill, Samuel, "John Muir and Ralph Waldo Emerson in Yosemite" (1934) in Voices for the Earth: A Treasury of the Sierra Club Bulletin 1893-1977 Edited by Ann Gilliam (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1979).
A description of Muir as a somewhat shy and awkward young man in 1871, when he met Emerson in Yosemite, compiled from the writings of Emerson's friend and traveling companion, James Bradley Thayer, as well as Muir himself.

_______________, "Personal Recollections of John Muir" (1928) in Voices for the Earth: A Treasury of the Sierra Club Bulletin 1893-1977 Edited by Ann Gilliam (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1979).
A first-hand account by a member of the Indianapolis family that befriended Muir in 1866, when he was temporarily blinded by an industrial accident, who later visited Muir at his Martinez ranch in 1892 when the Sierra Club was founded.

McAleer, John, "John Muir," in Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter , (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1984).
This unique biography illustrates Emerson's life through "encounters" with numerous individuals, the full spectrum of his relationships. One chapter features Emerson's meeting with John Muir in Yosemite in 1870. While Muir biographies describe this from Muir's point of view, this version, told from Emerson's point of view, provides some fascinating details. Also describes the later Muir-Emerson correspondence and relationship.

Nash, Roderick, "John Muir: Publicizer" in Wilderness and the American Mind , Revised Edition (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1973).
John Muir is naturally treated in some depth in this chapter, as well as elsewhere, in this classic, must-read book about the history and philosophy of the wilderness movement.

Oelschlaeger, Max, "John Muir: Wilderness Sage" The Idea of Wilderness (New Haven & London: Yale Univ. Press, 1991).
The author, a philosophy professor at the University of North Texas, argues that Muir abandoned the anthropocentric theology of Calvinism and replaced it "with a biocentric wilderness theology rooted in a consciousness of the sacrality of wild nature."

O'Grady, John P., Pilgrims to the Wild (Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press, 1993).
Descriptive essays of five American nature writers includes a chapter on John Muir which according to the John Muir Newsletter "finds sublimated eroticism in his passionate nature prose." O'Grady describes Muir as making a ten-year pilgrimage to the wild, "walking, climbing, pursuing his desire, to-ing and fro-ing the length and breadth of California, singing its undomesticated praises."

Parkman, Mary R. The Laird of Skyland: John Muir - in Heroes of To-day by Mary R. Parkman (New York: The Century Co., 1917)
Overview of Muir's life, built largely out of Muir's The Story of My Boyhood and Youth and many of his other writings. A few errors (such as saying Muir went to University of Wisconsin for four years when it was actually 12 1/2 years. This is an inspirational version of Muir's life, good for young and old.

Parsons, Marion Randall, "John Muir and the Alaska Book" (1916) in Voices for the Earth: A Treasury of the Sierra Club Bulletin 1893-1977 Edited by Ann Gilliam (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1979).
One of the first of many women leaders of the Sierra Club, and an early member of its Board of Directors, Marion Randall Parsons was editor, secretary, and friend to John Muir during the writing of his last book, Travels in Alaska . She provides here some fascinating first-hand insights of Muir's writing efforts.

Passineau, Joseph F., and Brynildson, Erik, "The wilderness legacy of John Muir -- 150 years from Fountain Lake Farm to World Wilderness" In: Easley, A.T. et al., The Use of Wilderness for Personal Growth, Therapy, and Education. U.S. Forest Service, General Technical Report RM-193. Pp. 135-140. (1990).
Explores the significant role which Muir played as an advocate of wilderness and national parks, emphasizing the importance of Muir's boyhood discovery years at Fountain Lake Farm, Wisconsin. Includes the resolution adopted at the 4th World Wilderness Congress calling for a sesquicentennial commemoration of Muir's birth and designation of Fountain Lake Farm as a unit within the National Park system.

Powell, Lawrence Clark, "John Muir: The Mountains of California," in: California Classics: The Creative Literature of the Golden State: Essays on the Books and Their Writers (Santa Barbara, Capra Press, 1971).
This book covers 31 California authors and their major works. Noted librarian, educator, and author Lawrence Clark Powell writes of Muir, "If I were to choose a single Californian to occupy the Hall of Fame, it would be this tenacious Scot who became a Californian during the final forty-six years of his life.... More than any other, he was the answer to that call which appears on the Courts Building in Sacramento: Give me men to match my mountains." This is a most noteworthy statement coming from a scholar of Powell's stature, especially considering that some of the other notable writers covered in this book include Jack London, Mark Twain, Bret Harte, John Steinbeck, Robert Louis Stevenson, Helen Hunt Jackson, Aldous Huxley, Upton Sinclair, Robinson Jeffers, Mary Austin, and Richard Henry Dana, Jr. Read Excerpt.

Stanley, Phillis M. "John Muir: Sierra Club Founder" in American Environmental Heroes (Springfield, N.J., Enslow Publishers Inc., 1998).
Excellent for young people, this book covers both historical and contemporary environmental heroes. In addition to John Muir, the book features Henry David Thoreau: Naturalist and Writer; Ellen Swallow Richards: The Woman Who Founded Ecology; George Washington Carver: Botanist and Agricultural Researcher; Aldo Leopold: Father of American Wildlife Conservation; Rachel Carson: Warned Planet Earth of a 'Silent Spring'; David Brower: Mountaineer, Activist, and Environmentalist; Barry Commoner: The Paul Revere of Ecology; Sylvia Earle: Her Royal Deepness; and Frances Moore Lappè: Linked American Diet with World Hunger. The Chapter on John Muir is a straight-forward ten pages about Muir's life, with three black and white photographs.

Turner, Tom, Sierra Club: 100 Years of Protecting Nature (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991)
This beautifully illustrated "coffee table" book contains fascinating historical photographs as well as lush nature photography. The accompanying text deals extensively with John Muir in the first third of the book.

Vickery, Jim dale [sic], "John Muir: Footloose in Ranges of Light" in Wilderness Visionaries (Merrillville,Indiana, ICS Books, Inc.,1986). Chronology (combining all six visionaries); "Selected Bibliographies," "Source Notes," and Index.
This book explores the evolution of the idea of wilderness in North American culture, by tracing the lives of six wilderness visionaries: Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Robert Service, Robert Marshall, Calvin Rutstrum, and Sigurd F. Olson. The Chapter on Muir is a fast-paced 58-page mini-biography of Muir that reads like an adventure story! The entire book concentrates on the outdoor experiences of its subjects, and how those experiences led to ideas, literature, and movements influencing the evolution of the American vision of wilderness. An excellent introduction to the wilderness movement, with an emphasis on the North Country canoe wildernesses.

Wild, Peter, "The Mysteries of the Mountains and Practical Politics: John Muir Fights for His Range of Light" in Pioneer Conservationists of Western America (Missoula, Mountain Press Publ. Co. 1979). Illus., pp. 29-43.
Insightful description of Muir's life and his literary persuasiveness for wilderness preservation.

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