In 1991, Doug Tompkins abandoned his comfortable life in San Francisco and flew 6,500 miles south to a shack in Patagonia. Instead of the Golden Gate Bridge, Tompkins stared out the window at Volcano Michinmahuida, blanketed in snow and prowled by mountain lions. Shielded by waterfalls and wilderness, the founder of such groundbreaking companies as Esprit and The North Face suddenly regretted the corporate capitalism from which he had profited for years. As a CEO he had caused much pollution and, "made things nobody needed". Now, he declared, it was time to reverse the damage to the planet, and maybe even himself.
In A Wild Idea, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Jonathan Franklin tells the incredible true story of Douglas Tompkins, who became one of the primary founders of our modern conservation and land protection movement. Piloting his small plane, Tompkins explored the uninhabited lands of Patagonia and gaped at the singular beauty: active volcanoes, forests never logged, rivers never dammed – all so undisturbed, so exquisitely designed. Could he protect this wild beauty? For the ensuing quarter-century, that dream – that obsession – became his life. Only in death did it become his legacy.
Jonathan Franklin is an investigative journalist who has reported for the New York Times, Boston Globe, and The Guardian. A native of Massachusetts, he resides in Santiago, Chile, with his wife and seven daughters, but often lives off the grid when writing his books.