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Wilderness and the American Spirit

Wilderness and the American Spirit

Current price: $18.95
Publication Date: March 19th, 2024
Overcup Press
Available for Preorder


The idea of the American spirit has always been rooted in expansion and abundance— at great cost to the environment. Americans now find themselves at the edge of consequence: entering an age of scarcity, less ready to thrive than ever before, and in need of a new relationship with the natural world.

Wilderness and the American Spirit retells the story of the American West putting our national mythology in context with our current environmental crisis. Ruby McConnell is a geologist who uses the Applegate Trail— the lesser known southern alternative to the Oregon Trail— as a vehicle to tell stories in the same way that Rachel Carson used birds and Edward Abbey used Arches. The trail begins in the deserts of Nevada, home of today's Burning Man Festival. She follows the route westward through time and place exploring map-making, land use policies, the establishment of utopian communities (both faith-based and not), and the creation of resource based economies, connecting the dots and showing how we got to now.

Blending history, science, and storytelling Wilderness and the American Spirit traces one route leading to our current moment and suggests new routes to move us forward.

About the Author

Ruby McConnell is a writer, geologist, and environmental activist whose award-winning work has been featured in Ms. Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and Mother Earth News. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed outdoor series A Woman’s Guide to the Wild and A Girl’s Guide to the Wild and its companion activity book for young adventurers, and Ground Truth: A Geological Survey of a Life, which was a finalist for the 2020 Oregon Book Awards. She lives and writes in the heart of Oregon country. You can almost always find her in the woods - and online