Top critical review
Beautiful Book By A Great Man... But Kinda Boring
Reviewed in the United States on June 16, 2021
As regards his love of Creation, the great Scottish-American naturalist John Muir was cut from the same cloth as our old friend Theodore Roosevelt. Muir was a staunch defender of America’s natural treasures, and in all probability spent more time in his life outdoors than in. He, like TR, authored several works throughout his life. And he, again, like TR, was an overbearingly detailed writer.
John Muir once ran down a bear just to see it run away so as to be able to study its gait. Another time, he rode an avalanche down a mountain to understand how avalanches work, and said that even the memory of that experience continued to exhilarate him. Once, during a Yosemite earthquake, he ran outside and rode the whole thing out in order study its effects in nature. There was even a time when he climbed to the top of a tree during a severe thunderstorm and held on for dear life so that he could understand violent weather. And I wish that this book was about all those things.
But it’s not. Instead one has to suffer through repetitive binomial nomenclature (I.e. the Latin names of plants and animals), and boring descriptions- though impressively poetic- of the various flora, fauna and topography of the only four national parks that existed in 1901, all found at that time in California, except Yellowstone.
If you want to read a book by John Muir, knock yourself out with this one. I love our national parks, so in that sense it was interesting. If you want to read about John Muir, this book won’t do. Muir is captivating in many ways, but like my buddy TR, his books ain’t always one’a them ways.
As much of a non-fiction reader as I am, I may actually need to reach for a little dab of fiction just as a sort of mental palette cleanser.