Download Natural Rivals: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and the Creation of America’s Public Lands Audiobook

Natural Rivals: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and the Creation of America’s Public Lands Audiobook, by John Clayton Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: John Clayton Narrator: Richard Powers Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2019 ISBN: 9781094099613
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This dynamic examination traces the lives of two of the most influential figures and their dueling approaches on America’s natural landscape.

John Muir, the most famous naturalist in American history, protected Yosemite, cofounded the Sierra Club, and is sometimes called the Father of the National Parks. A poor immigrant, self-taught, individualistic, and skeptical of institutions, he had an idealistic belief in the spiritual benefits of holistic natural systems that led him to a philosophy of preserving wilderness unimpaired.

Gifford Pinchot founded the US Forest Service and advised his friend Theodore Roosevelt on environmental policy. Raised in wealth, educated in privilege, and interested in how institutions and community can overcome failures in individual virtue, Pinchot’s pragmatic belief in professional management led him to a philosophy of sustainably conserving natural resources.

When these rivaling perspectives meet, what happens? For decades, the story of their relationship has been told as a split between the conservation and preservation philosophies, sparked by a proposal to dam a remote Yosemite valley called Hetch Hetchy. But a decade before that argument, Muir and Pinchot camped together alongside Montana’s jewel-like Lake McDonald in what was at the heart of a region not yet consecrated as Glacier National Park.

At stake in 1896 was the new idea that some landscapes should be collectively, permanently owned by a democratic government. Although many people today think of public lands as an American birthright, their very existence was then in doubt and dependent on a merger of the talents of these two men. Natural Rivals examines a time of environmental threat and political dysfunction not unlike our own and reveals the complex dynamic that gave birth to America’s rich public lands legacy.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Mr. Clayton writes with clarity, passion, and insight. This story is uneasily relevant to today…and may even provide a template for addressing climate change. We need our own John Muir and Gifford Pinchot.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A crisply written double biography. Clayton paints vivid portraits of each…[and] their preservation versus conservation debate, which still rages.”


  • “In this hybrid biography-history…[Clayton] posits that Muir and Pinchot’s differing approaches, far from causing an irreparable rift, balanced each other out…Readers will share Clayton’s hope that a similar ‘marriage of morality and capability’ can help solve today’s most pressing issues.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[In] his timely book…Clayton looks at the issue of public lands through the lens of these two, seemingly like-minded men: prophet vs. statesman, a romantic vs. a practical man, and Muir’s moral authority vs. Pinchot’s tactical genius…Today, Clayton writes, we need a ‘visionary management framework,’ not ‘culture wars.’ A substantial contribution to understanding our environmental past.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

John Clayton is an independent journalist, essayist, and historian based in Montana. He is the author of several books, including The Cowboy Girl, which was a finalist for a High Plains Book Award, and Wonderlandscape: Yellowstone National Park and the Evolution of an American Cultural Icon, a Montana Book Award honor book and winner of the High Plains Book Award.

About the Narrator

R. C. Bray is an award-winning audiobook narrator with over 180 titles to his credit. Besides winning five AudioFile Earphones Awards, he won the prestigious Audie Award in 2015 for Best Science Fiction Narration and has been an Audie Award finalist seven times. He has been a finalist for the Voice Arts Award, and in 2014, his narration earned a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award. He is also an accomplished producer and voice-over artist, and his voice can be heard in countless TV and radio commercials.