The Best Books About John Muir: Father Of The American Environmental Movement

Kim Heacox Author Of John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire: How a Visionary and the Glaciers of Alaska Changed America
By Kim Heacox

The Books I Picked & Why

A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir

By Donald Worster

A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir

Why this book?

This is a complete biography of Muir that according to the Journal of American History “Supplants all earlier Muir biographies and will undoubtedly stand the test of time for its sophisticated interpretations and impressive narrative power.” The journal added that it’s also “a pleasure to read.” Worster knows his stuff. He’s Hall Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Kansas.


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Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir

By Linnie Marsh Wolfe

Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir

Why this book?

It won the Pulitzer Prize in biography. Wolfe interviewed many people who knew Muir, and rendered an account that can never be repeated. This was the first book about Muir to explore not only his life as a naturalist and activist, but also his role as a son, father and husband, as well as an inventor, farmer and lobbyist. The text is buoyant and breezy.


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The Young John Muir: An Environmental Biography

By Steven J. Holmes

The Young John Muir: An Environmental Biography

Why this book?

Born in Scotland and raised in Wisconsin, Muir had many profound childhood experiences that shaped his radicalism, including his ability to see America through a different lens that gave him impartiality but also compassion. In short, Muir’s ability to question everything, even our modern notions of progress and what makes us happy, stems from his childhood and early manhood, which this book explores in perfect detail.


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Across the Shaman's River: John Muir, the Tlingit Stronghold, and the Opening of the North

By Daniel Lee Henry

Across the Shaman's River: John Muir, the Tlingit Stronghold, and the Opening of the North

Why this book?

In the fall of 1879, when John Muir arrived among Alaska’s Chilkat Tlingits, he charmed them with his stories but also unwittingly acted as an agent of Manifest Destiny and opened the floodgates of the Klondike Gold Rush. This is an important story of first contact and fresh perspectives, thoroughly researched and compellingly told. There’s no other book like it.


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Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave Little Dog

By John Muir

Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave Little Dog

Why this book?

When Muir made his second great canoe trip in Alaska, in 1880, one of his canoe-mates, a Presbyterian missionary, brought along a little terrier named Stickeen. At first, Muir didn’t like the dog. But later, the two spent a cold, wet day exploring a massive glacier, and barely survived. Muir called it the greatest of his many adventure stories. The illustrations in this book are exaggerated, but stunning. You can almost feel the cold, and the elation man and dog feel at the end as they become fast friends.


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