Rosalie Edge (1877-1962) was the first American woman to achieve national renown as a conservationist. Dyana Z. Furmansky draws on Edge’s personal papers and on interviews with family members and associates to portray an implacable, indomitable personality whose activism earned her the names "Joan of Arc" and "hellcat". A progressive New York socialite and veteran suffragist, Edge did not join the conservation movement until her early fifties. Nonetheless, her legacy of achievements –called "widespread and monumental" by the New Yorker – forms a crucial link between the eras defined by John Muir and Rachel Carson. An early voice against the indiscriminate use of toxins and pesticides, Edge reported evidence about the dangers of DDT fourteen years before Carson's Silent Spring was published.
Today, Edge is most widely remembered for establishing Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the world's first refuge for birds of prey. Founded in 1934 and located in eastern Pennsylvania, Hawk Mountain was cited in Silent Spring as an "especially significant" source of data. In 1930, Edge formed the militant Emergency Conservation Committee, which not only railed against the complacency of the Bureau of Biological Survey, Audubon Society, U.S. Forest Service, and other stewardship organizations but also exposed the complicity of some in the squandering of our natural heritage. Edge played key roles in the establishment of Olympic and Kings Canyon National Parks and the expansion of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Filled with new insights into a tumultuous period in American conservation, this is the life story of an unforgettable individual whose work influenced the first generation of environmentalists, including the founders of the Wilderness Society, Nature Conservancy, and Environmental Defense Fund.
"Written with disarming and compelling glee, Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy, by Dyana Z. Furmansky, tells the unlikely story of how a poor little rich girl became the most effective American conservationist between John Muir and Rachel Carson."
"Clearly relishing every moment of Edge’s remarkable life, Furmansky vividly enriches environmental history with her inspiring portrait of this indomitable champion of the wild."
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Dyana Z. Furmansky (writing as Dyan Zaslowsky) is coauthor of These American Lands: Parks, Wilderness, and the Public Lands. Her articles on nature and the environment have appeared in the New York Times, American Heritage, Audubon, High Country News, Sierra, Wilderness, and many other publications. In 1986 she was part of the team of High Country News reporters that won a George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting, for the series “Western Water Made Simple.” Furmansky lives in Denver.