Bestselling author David Gessner’s wilderness road trip inspired by America’s greatest conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt, is “a rallying cry in the age of climate change” (Robert Redford).
“Leave it as it is,” Theodore Roosevelt announced while viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time. “The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.” Roosevelt’s pronouncement signaled the beginning of an environmental fight that still wages today. To reconnect with the American wilderness and with the president who courageously protected it, acclaimed nature writer and New York Times bestselling author David Gessner embarks on a great American road trip guided by Roosevelt’s crusading environmental legacy.
Gessner travels to the Dakota badlands where Roosevelt awakened as a naturalist; to Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon where Roosevelt escaped during the grind of his reelection tour; and finally, to Bears Ears, Utah, a monument proposed by Native Tribes that is currently embroiled in a national conservation fight. Along the way, Gessner questions and reimagines Roosevelt’s vision for today’s lands.
“Insightful, observant, and wry,” (BookPage) Leave It As It Is offers an arresting history of Roosevelt’s pioneering conservationism, a powerful call to arms, and a profound meditation on our environmental future.
Naturalist Gessner (All the Wild that Remains) delivers a thoughtful consideration of Theodore Roosevelt's conservation legacy as president. According to this book, there is "practically speaking, no greater savior" of U.S. wilderness than Roosevelt, who created five national parks, 150 national forests, and 51 bird and four national game preserves, as well as the United States Forest Service. In a campaign speech delivered on the lip of the Grand Canyon in 1903, he memorably summed up his ethos regarding nature as "Leave it as it is." This is no hagiography, however, as Gessner highlights his subject's contradictions and hypocrisies as well as virtues. Most glaringly, like other conservationists of the time, Roosevelt held a "pristine ideal of an unpeopled nature" that pointedly excluded Native Americans, who were viewed as an "encroachment." However, Gessner sees great value in the 26th president's "muscular environmentalism," which saw him unafraid to press or circumvent a reluctant Congress, and which in the present, Gessner believes, could serve as a template for taking action to protect lands under threat from climate change and fossil fuel companies. This is an excellent look at the origins of environmentalism and an inspiring call to build upon what Roosevelt and other early environmentalists started.