Down to Earth

Down to Earth

Nature's Role in American History

Book - 2002
Rate this:
A tour de force of writing and analysis, Down to Earth offers a sweeping history of our nation, one that for the first time places the environment at the very center of our story. Writing with marvelous clarity, historian Ted Steinberg sweeps across the centuries, re-envisioning the story of America as he recounts how the environment has played a key role in virtually every social, economic, and political development. Ranging from the colonists' attempts to impose orderon the land to the modern efforts to sell the wilderness as a consumer good, packaged in national parks and Alaskan cruises, Steinberg reminds readers that many critical episodes in our history were, in fact, environmental events: the California Gold Rush, for example, or the great migration ofAfrican Americans to the North in the early twentieth century (in part the consequence of an insect infestation). Equally important, Steinberg highlights the ways in which we have envisioned nature, attempting to reshape and control it--from Thomas Jefferson's surveying plan that divided thenational landscape into a grid, to the transformation of animals, crops, and even water into commodities (New Englanders started trading water rights by the early nineteenth century). From the Pilgrims to Disney World, Steinberg's narrative abounds with fascinating details and often disturbinginsights into our interaction with the natural world. Few books truly change the way we see the past. Down to Earth is one of them: a vivid narrative that reveals the environment to be a powerful force in our history--a force that must be examined if we are truly to understand ourselves.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2002
ISBN: 9780195140095
Characteristics: xiv, 347 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Quote

SPPL_János Mar 22, 2018

"Not that the economic impulse that informed the early idea of wilderness disappeared completely. In setting aside the first national parks, Congress made a point of looking for worthless lands – regions with limited agricultural and ranching prospects and no sign of valuable minerals – possessed of monumental grandeur. Unlike European countries, the United States, a much younger nation by comparison, had few cultural icons to match the castles and cathedrals that gave Old World states unique national identities. With the country emerging from the divisive Civil War, its status as a unified nation still quite fragile, congressmen searched the landscape for awe-inspiring physical features – stunning mountain scenery, vast and colorful canyons, spectacular geysers – for its citizens to rally around."


Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at MARINet

To Top