Several days ago I intended to post a fairly comprehensive tribute to the “Apostle of the Wild,” John Muir, who died a century ago on Christmas Eve, but a cold got the better of me. Muir was enthralled with the earth and I count his writings among those that stirred my passion for nature; he was one of the great thinkers who made a prominent impression on countless others.
A Scottish immigrant, Muir studied natural sciences at the University of Wisconsin but became a naturalist, conservationist, geologist, botanist, philosopher, poet, and eventually a public figure, through what he called the “University of Wilderness” (although many actual universities, including Harvard and Yale, later granted him honorary degrees). His writings “belonged to that tradition of British naturalists whose work was so fused with the writer’s personality and so penetrated by individual feeling that their output was as much literature as science,” opined the L.A. Times the day after his death in 1914. Muir dedicated his life to the preservation of wilderness areas and national parks.
Tragically, Muir’s legacy is under attack. But in “John Muir’s Last Stand,” Tom Butler and Eileen Crist celebrate the man and the gifts he left us, while defending a wilderness movement that protects the wild, for its own sake. I could not have said it better.