The Wildest Place on Earth is the ironic story of how Italian Renaissance and Baroque gardens encouraged the preservation of the American wilderness and ultimately fostered the creation of the world's first national park system. Told via Mitchell's sometimes disastrous and humorous travels – from the gardens of southern Italy up through Tuscany and the lake island gardens – The Wildest Place on Earth is filled with history, folklore, myths, and legends of Western Europe, including a detailed history of the labyrinth, a common element in Renaissance gardens. In his attempt to understand the Italian garden in detail, Mitchell set out to create one on his own property – with a labyrinth.
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John Hanson Mitchell is the author of five books based on a single square mile known as Scratch Flat, as well as two travel books and the biography of the early African American landscape photographer Robert A. Gilbert. A winner of the John Burroughs Award for his nature essays, Mitchell was founder and editor of Sanctuary magazine, published by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. In 2000 he won the New England Book Award in nonfiction for his Scratch Flat series. He lives in Littleton, Massachusetts, the location of Scratch Flat.