In "God's wilds" John Muir found beauty, inspiration, and the courage to battle governmental powers for the preservation of natural landscapes. In his writing and his activism as the founding president of the Sierra Club, countless others have also found a call to enjoy and preserve the natural world. Muir, still one of the most popular American nature writers, was instrumental in the creation of Yosemite National Park and other western parks. For years, environmentalists have used him as a bellwether for their objectives, making him into a wilderness man, a pantheist, and an ascetic. In God's Wilds, Dennis C. Williams, unlike other interpreters, suggests that Muir's ambition to save nature from development emerged out of his commitment to nineteenth-century evangelical Christian theology. Muir embodied the uneasy relationship of metaphysics and natural science of his time. It is the melding of these two visions, Williams suggests, that continues to make his work appealing and gives it power to fuel environmental activism and an appreciation of the value of nature and the environment in the modern world.
DENNIS C. WILLIAMS is an associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Southern Nazarene University. He lives in Bethany, Oklahoma.
... covers the turf in a direct kind of detail that is thoughtful and powerful, and it revises an important historical figure. - Hal K. Rothman