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The Hour of Land
Cover of The Hour of Land
The Hour of Land
A Personal Topography of America's National Parks
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America's national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadilydisappearing, which is why more than 300 millionpeople visit the parks each year. Now TerryTempest Williams, the author of the environmentalclassic Refuge and the beloved memoir WhenWomen Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, aliterary celebration of our national parks, an explorationof what they mean to us and what we meanto them.

From the Grand Tetons in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas and more, Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and a manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America.

America's national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadilydisappearing, which is why more than 300 millionpeople visit the parks each year. Now TerryTempest Williams, the author of the environmentalclassic Refuge and the beloved memoir WhenWomen Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, aliterary celebration of our national parks, an explorationof what they mean to us and what we meanto them.

From the Grand Tetons in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas and more, Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and a manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America.

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About the Author-
  • Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, and When Women Were Birds. Her work has been widely anthologized around the world. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Moose, Wyoming.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 25, 2016
    Williams (When Women Were Birds), a longtime environmental activist, adds a meditative element to memoir as she shares her abiding love for America’s open spaces. She grew up in Utah, home to five national parks and seven national monuments, and writes of places such as the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, Big Bend National Park in Texas, and Glacier National Park in Montana. Some parks are new to Williams, and others are deeply familiar: Williams’s great-grandfather introduced Grand Teton National Park to his son, who introduced it to his sons, who in turn introduced it to her. Chapters on Big Bend and the Gulf Coast give Williams opportunities to address political and environmental issues, particularly calls for a wall to separate the U.S. from Mexico. “The 118-mile border that Big Bend National Park shares with Mexico would be closed not only to humans,” but to the “movement and migration” of an array of species that “have no understanding of man-made borders,” she writes. Similarly, her discussion of the Gulf Islands National Seashore centers on BP and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In passionate and insightful prose, Williams celebrates the beauty of the American landscape while reinforcing the necessity of responsible stewardship. Illus. Agency: Brandt & Hochman Literary.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2016
    In commemoration of the centennial of the National Park Service, Williams (When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, 2012, etc.) explores 12 diverse parks. There are few contemporary nonfiction writers who can capture the essence of the American wilderness landscape as eloquently and intimately as Williams. Noted for writing about the American West, her distinctive prose style is capable of conveying a deep spiritual dimension within the physical setting. This is very much in evidence in her latest book, a broadly ambitious and deeply impassioned collection of essays on a select group of settings within the national park system. Her writing expands beyond recreational parks to include battlefields, monuments, and seashores. Williams reflects on personal ties to locations such as Grand Teton and stretches across the country to Arcadia National Park, where she discovers familial roots going back several generations. Other locations, such as Big Bend National Park and Alcatraz Island, offer first-time encounters. Williams provides well-documented histories of many of these parks, yet a more consistent thread running throughout the book touches on the rapid changes incurred in recent decades, primarily related to the destructive effects of climate change or by the interference and conflicting interests of the federal government and the oil industry. The author heartbreakingly examines the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the mass devastation caused by the 2010 BP oil spill. Williams' message for preserving and respecting these sights is heartfelt, but she has a tendency to occasionally overstate her message, and her calls to action sometimes veer toward rants. Her writing is most powerful and convincing when she allows her subtle and often sublime reflections to shine forth: "No matter how much we try to manage and manipulate, orchestrate, or regulate our national parks, they will remain as the edge-scapes they are existing on the boundaries between culture and wildness--improvisational spaces immune to the scripts of anyone." An important, well-informed, and moving read for anyone interested in learning more about America's national parks.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2016
    Noted conservationist/activist Williams honors the centennial of the National Park Service with a memoir/commentary blend featuring 12 parks ranging from Yellowstone in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine. With 22 black-and-white images from photographers like Sally Mann and Sebastiao Salgado.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Betsy Burton, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah

    "Williams (When Women Were Birds, 2012), an ardent, often rhapsodic, always scrupulous witness to the living world and advocate for the protection of public lands, celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service in this enrapturing and encompassing chronicle of her deeply inquisitive, meditative, and dramatic sojourns in a dozen national parks. Guided by a finely calibrated moral compass and acute attunement to the spirit of the land . . . this is a uniquely evocative, illuminating, profound, poignant, beautiful, courageous, and clarion book about the true significance of our national parks."--Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

    'A broadly ambitious and deeply impassioned collection of essays . . . There are few nonfiction writers who can capture the essence of the American wilderness landscape as eloquently as Williams . . . her distinctive prose style is capable of conveying a deep spiritual dimension within the physical setting . . . An important, well-informed, and moving read for anyone interested in learning more about America's national parks.'--Kirkus Reviews

    "Taking us through American national parks and monuments, their history, their present reality, the rocks and birds and trees of them, traveling through place, the memory of place, its history, somehow, whether through the spectrum of poetry or personal story, natural history, history, or science, The Hour of Land reveals the very bones and sinew of our land. A redheaded woodpecker, Theodore Roosevelt's grief, Terry Tempest Williams's straight-backed father, a horseback ride with her husband through the terrain of the Civil War--slowly, place by place, our country begins to emerge. The South's Civil War outlook is linked to that of today's Sagebrush Rebellion here in the West; a planned wall in Big Bend to the inevitable desecration of nature; fratricidal rage to the glorious indifference of the Arctic, righteous rage to the devastation of oil spills, of the earth; Alcatraz to injustice everywhere. The conflagration of Glacier National Park sets the pages on fire, and yet the monument to Cesar Chavez offers the possibility of change: the Hour of Land is at hand. Terry Tempest Williams has literally shown us our country, its physical body, the bones of its history, the urgent reality of our roles in its future. A manifesto that everyone must read and then act upon."

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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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