How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History

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9780140280562: How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History
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Dismissed by the first Spanish explorers as a wasteland, the Grand Canyon lay virtually unnoticed for three centuries until nineteenth- century America rediscovered it and seized it as a national emblem. This extraordinary work of intellectual and environmental history tells two tales of the Canyon: the discovery and exploration of the physical Canyon and the invention and evolution of the cultural Canyon--how we learned to endow it with mythic significance.Acclaimed historian Stephen Pyne examines the major shifts in Western attitudes toward nature, and recounts the achievements of explorers, geologists, artists, and writers, from John Wesley Powell to Wallace Stegner, and how they transformed the Canyon into a fixture of national identity. This groundbreaking book takes us on a completely original journey through the Canyon toward a new understanding of its niche in the American psyche, a journey that mirrors the making of the nation itself.

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Arizona-based environmental historian Stephen J. Pyne has fought fires on the Grand Canyon's north and south rims, traveled on foot and muleback into its depths, floated its length down the Colorado River, explored its hidden recesses--and spent years looking into its history, especially into what he deems the "intellectual miracle" of the canyon's transformation into a celebrated symbol of the American wild lands.

American explorers, who first came to the canyon's walls after the U.S. took the Southwest as the spoils of victory over Mexico, were inclined to describe it in harsh terms. As Lt. Joseph Ives remarked in a report to Congress in 1858, "The region is, of course, altogether valueless...." But 11 years later, when John Wesley Powell surveyed the length of the Colorado River, he brought to the canyon a poetic, even romantic sensibility. Through Powell and his companions, especially the geologist Clarence Dutton, the harsh landscape of the Grand Canyon would come to be regarded as "the coliseums, temples, and statuary of an inspired nature."

"The Canyon claims standing," Pyne remarks, "not because of its size or antiquity but ... by virtue of its ever-evolving ensemble and the ideas continually made available by which to interpret it." Those ideas--from men and women like Theodore Roosevelt, Wallace Stegner, Joseph Wood Krutch, Edward Abbey, and Ann Zwinger--would come to influence the national discussion on all public lands. As such, Pyne suggests, the Grand Canyon became a laboratory for the environmental movement as a whole, influential far beyond the borders of the arid Southwest--in short, as Pyne calls it, "a planetary monument." --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Stephen J. Pyne is a professor of history at Arizona State University, a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and winner of the 1995 Los Angeles Times Robert Kirsch Award for Arts and Letters. His book The Ice was named one of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year. His eleven groundbreaking books include the five-volume Cycle of Fire. He lives in Glendale, Arizona.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780670881109: How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History

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ISBN 10:  0670881104 ISBN 13:  9780670881109
Publisher: Viking Adult, 1998
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9780788197550: How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History

Viking..., 1998
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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Dismissed by the first Spanish explorers as a wasteland, the Grand Canyon lay virtually unnoticed for three centuries until nineteenth- century America rediscovered it and seized it as a national emblem. This extraordinary work of intellectual and environmental history tells two tales of the Canyon: the discovery and exploration of the physical Canyon and the invention and evolution of the cultural Canyon--how we learned to endow it with mythic significance.Acclaimed historian Stephen Pyne examines the major shifts in Western attitudes toward nature, and recounts the achievements of explorers, geologists, artists, and writers, from John Wesley Powell to Wallace Stegner, and how they transformed the Canyon into a fixture of national identity. This groundbreaking book takes us on a completely original journey through the Canyon toward a new understanding of its niche in the American psyche, a journey that mirrors the making of the nation itself. Seller Inventory # BTE9780140280562

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Dismissed by the first Spanish explorers as a wasteland, the Grand Canyon lay virtually unnoticed for three centuries until nineteenth- century America rediscovered it and seized it as a national emblem. This extraordinary work of intellectual and environmental history tells two tales of the Canyon: the discovery and exploration of the physical Canyon and the invention and evolution of the cultural Canyon--how we learned to endow it with mythic significance.Acclaimed historian Stephen Pyne examines the major shifts in Western attitudes toward nature, and recounts the achievements of explorers, geologists, artists, and writers, from John Wesley Powell to Wallace Stegner, and how they transformed the Canyon into a fixture of national identity. This groundbreaking book takes us on a completely original journey through the Canyon toward a new understanding of its niche in the American psyche, a journey that mirrors the making of the nation itself. Seller Inventory # BZV9780140280562

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