First Along the River: A Brief History of the U.S. Environmental Movement provides students with a balanced, historical perspective on the history of the environmental movement in relation to major social and political events in U.S. history, from the pre-colonial era to the present. The book highlights important people and events, places critical concepts in context, and shows the impact of government, industry, and population on the American landscape.
Comprehensive yet brief, First Along the River discusses the religious and philosophical beliefs that shaped Americans' relationship to the environment, traces the origins and development of government regulations that impact Americans' use of natural resources, and shows why popular environmental groups were founded and how they changed over time.
The fifth edition includes up-to-date coverage of the environmental movement and developments including an overview of environmental issues since 2012, environmental policies impacted by the Trump administration, the coronavirus pandemic, and the switch back to a more global perspective under the Biden administration.
1. Philosophical Foundations 5
2. The 1400s through the 1700s: Inhabiting a New Land 17
3. The Early 1800s: Destroying the Frontier 29
4. The Late 1880s: Building an Industrial Nation 43
5. The 1900s through the 1930s: Beginnings of the Conservation Movement 59
6. The 1940s through the 1960s: Prelude to the Green Decade 79
7. The 1970s: The Conservation Movement Matures 95
8. The 1980s: A Conservative Backlash 113
9. The Early 1990s: Government Retrenchment and Public Apathy 129
10. The Late 1990s: The Institutionalization of
11. The Environmental Movement in the Post-9/11 World: 2000–2010 171
12 A Nation Divided: 2011–2020 189
Bibliography and Suggested Readings 237
Benjamin Kline is a professor in both the Social Science and Intercultural Studies Divisions at De Anza College.
"First Along the River is a lively and readable history of the environmental movement in the United States from the time of European contact to the present, suitable for undergraduate courses in a variety of disciplines. I assign it regularly in my Environmental Leadership course since it provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the topic that can be supplemented with primary source reading."
– Benjamin Redekop, professor of Leadership Studies, Christopher Newport University
"Professor Kline's new edition is highly readable with clear and accurate coverage of historical events. His prose draws you in and makes it easy for the reader to enjoy and learn what he is providing."
– Philip McKnight, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams. MA
"The fifth edition of Kline's First Along the River adds important new material on dramatic environmental changes the world has seen since 2010, including for example the accelerating impacts of global warming, the rise of the environmental justice movement, the Trump Administration's attack on environmental protection, the COVID pandemic, the Green New Deal, and the significant expansion of youth climate activism. The book has always played an important role in the literature on environmental politics, detailing environmentalism's transformation over time, and Kline's story is now more compelling than ever."
– Tony Affigne, professor of Political Science, Black Studies, and Latina/o Studies at Providence College