Gifford Pinchot is known primarily for his work as first chief of the US Forest Service and for his argument that resources should be used to provide the "greatest good for the greatest number of people". But Pinchot was a more complicated figure than has generally been recognized, and more than half a century after his death, he continues to provoke controversy. This biography offers a fresh interpretation of the life and work of the famed conservationist and Progressive politician. In addition to considering Pinchot's role in the environmental movement, historian Char Miller sets forth an engaging description and analysis of the man - his character, passions and personality -and the larger world through which he moved. Miller begins by describing Pinchot's early years and the often overlooked influence of his family and their aspirations for him. He examines Pinchot's post-graduate education in France and his ensuing efforts in promoting the profession of forestry in the United States and in establishing and running the Forest Service. While Pinchot's 12 years as chief forester (1898-1910) are the ones most historians and biographers focus on, Miller also offers an extensive examination of Pinchot's post-federal career as head of The National Conservation Association and as two-term governor of Pennsylvania. In addition, he looks at Pinchot's marriage to feminist Cornelia Bryce and discusses her role in Pinchot's political radicalization throughout the 1920s and 1930s. An epilogue explores Pinchot's final years and writings. Miller offers a provocative reconsideration of key events in Pinchot's life, including his relationship with friend and mentor John Muir and their famous disagreement over damming Hetch Hetchy Valley. The author brings together insights from cultural and social history and recently discovered primary sources to support a new interpretation of Pinchot - whose activism not only helped environmental politics in early 20th century America but remains strikingly relevant today.
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Char Miller is professor and chair of the history department at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He is co-author of The Greatest Good: 100 Years of Forestry in America (Society of American Foresters, 1999), and editor of Fluid Arguments: Five Centuries of Western Water Conflict (University of Arizona Press, 2001).From Library Journal:
Miller (history, Trinity Univ. of San Antonio) examines the life of Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, remembered for a very public disagreement with Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger and President William Howard Taft. Pinchot emerges as a complicated person driven by a passion for public service and an abiding love for the outdoors. A Yale graduate, he utilized family connections to foster his political career. As a like-minded progressive, President Theodore Roosevelt teamed with Pinchot to advocate multiple use of the nation's forested lands and to identify and then set aside thousands of acres for preservation. This biography examines Pinchot's personality by presenting an extensive discussion of his career as head of the National Conservation Association, two-term governor of Pennsylvania, the author of a forestry training manual and an autobiography, and the husband of feminist Cornelia Bryce. Pinchot's life and work are as relevant today as they were during the early 20th century. A previous biography, Harold Pinkett's Gifford Pinchot: Public and Private Forester, is out of print. Recommended for all libraries, especially those with environmental collections. Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley Coll., Mt. Carmel, IL
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