600 pages, 58 illustrations, 6 maps
The Republic of Nature reframes standard accounts of American history based on the simple but radical premise that historical events are shaped by natural circumstances. From the natural philosophy of the founding fathers to the environmental forces behind Brown v. Board of Education, The Republic of Nature's focus on nature reveals a powerful new perspective on the most familiar icons of U.S. history.
"Mark Fiege has written a book so original and so necessary that a reader can be excused for being both astonished and wondering why no one has written a book like this before. It is easy to say that human history never takes place outside the natural world; it is quite another thing to write a history that demonstrates it with the subtlety and grace Mark Fiege does in The Republic of Nature."
– Richard White, author of Railroaded
"Like the most excellent histories, The Republic of Nature demands readers see what was once familiar – Gettysburg, the Salem Witch Trials, and other iconic moments in the American past – in a radically new way, demonstrated with such force that there can be no return to the old narrative. But this book is better than excellent. It is truly brilliant, for Mark Fiege offers us an equally persuasive reorientation of the practice of history itself. It's not just about rewriting the stories; it's about fundamentally rewiring the way we see the past."
– Philip Deloria, University of Michigan
"A thoughtful, thought-provoking, and beautifully written book. The Republic of Nature is sure to be a watershed title for environmental historians and open up a necessary – and long overdue – dialogue with other fields of American history."
– Karl Jacoby, Brown University
"In a world in which thousands of pundits and commentators send a steady barrage of condemnation at American education, Mark Fiege has offered every teacher of American history a valuable gift: a remedy for the fragmentation of subfields and the lack of cohesion of specialized research. American citizens who went to school before their teachers could draw on this wonderful and moving book need not regret their timing. For general readers, The Republic of Nature offers a thoroughly engaging intellectual adventure."
– Patty Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest
"This is surely among the most important works of environmental history published since the field was founded four or more decades ago. No book before it has so compellingly demonstrated the value of applying environmental perspectives to historical events that at first glance may seem to have little to do with 'nature' or 'the environment.' No one who cares about the American past can afford to ignore what Fiege has to say."
– from the Foreword by William Cronon
Environmental History Comes of Age by William Cronon
Land of Lincoln
1 Satan in the Land
Nature, the Supernatural, and Disorder in Colonial New England
2 By the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God
Declaring American Independence
3 King Cotton
The Cotton Plant and Southern Slavery
4 Nature's Nobleman
Abraham Lincoln and the Improvement of America
5 The Nature of Gettysburg
Environmental History and the Civil War
6 Iron Horses
Nature and the Building of the First U.S. Transcontinental Railroad
7 Atomic Sublime
Toward a Natural History of the Bomb
8 The Road to Brown v. Board
An Environmental History of the Color Line
9 It's a Gas
The United States and the Oil Shock of 1973-1974
Paths That Beckon
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Mark Fiege is an associate professor of history and the William E. Morgan Chair of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. He is the author of Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the West.