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5 TA i t% Labor Intensive Radio Radio of the union, by the union and for the union. \(News tips: call Paul Sherr at Tuesdays 6:30-7:00 p.m. KO.OP 91.7 FM UNION JAN REID RESCUE FUND Austin writer and longtime friend of the Observer, Jan Reid, was shot and seriously injured in a Mexico City robbery. Friends of Jan Reid have established a fund to help pay his medical expenses. Contributions to the Jan Reid Rescue Fund can be mailed to P.O. Box 13151, Austin, Texas 78711-3151. have created wilderness areas that we think of as an escape from or antidote to the civilization we have built, and paradoxically, he contends, have inadvertently cut ourselves off from nature. Always and everywhere in cities or in the “wild” we are “natural” and a part of nature. Human action and imagination have shaped both cities and “wilderness.” Cronon fears that the idea that “wild” can only exist in “wilderness” areas will blind us to the nature around us everyday. From this perspective, Cronon is simply trying to expose and reduce our alienation from cities, and our Romantic attraction to “untouched” nature. Yet I can’t help worrying that there is an unintended consequence of Cronon’s point of view. If wilderness comes to be considered a mere cultural value in this era of multiculturalism, that notion can also be an invitation to attacks on wilderness areas as enclaves for the white elite. In alliance with economically-based attacks from developers, such attacks could erode political support for the continued existence of wilderness areas at all. The intangible idea of wilderness has a sort of magic, a kind of Tinkerbell quality: not to believe is to kill it. Is love of wild areas even possible without urban alienation? I wonder. Out of the Woods is full of other such insightful and provocative essays. Among them is I.G. Simmons writing on how thousands of years of human culture have shaped England’s landscape. Samuel P. Hayes describes the forces that shaped political environmentalism since World War II. Joel Tarr explains how industrial America has searched for a place to discard its wastes, for what he calls “the ultimate ‘sink.”‘ Martin J. Melosi traces the rise of environmental racism as a political issue. Donald J. Pisani describes how the Paiute Indians and Pyramid Lake in Nevada lost their water to governmental and private development. Alfred W. Crosby evaluates New Zealand’s biotic change that the successive human invasions first Maori then European have produced, with some thoughtful responses to the decline of biodiversity. Stephen J. Pyne closes the book with an analysis of the role of fire in shaping the landscape of India, and the long history of how first British and then Indian conservationists learned, the hard way, fire’s crucial place in Indian ecology and economy. There are a couple problems with Out of the Woods that limit its usefulness as the “extended historiographical essay” the editors intend. The introductory matter to each section is too brief to really put the pieces in their proper historiographical context or significance. Miller and Rothman also omit the original publication dates of the chapters, and so the reader is left with little idea how and when the various pieces first made their mark, or how they represent the growth and development of the field. Melosi’s essay, which originally was an address to an ASEH meeting, probably should have been revised for publication as an article. lmost a companion to Out of the Woods, another collection edited by Miller, American Forests, assembles chapters and articles from books and academic journals from the last dozen years, tracing the history of the U.S. Forest Service. While there are gaps and slight overlaps between the articles that typically characterize such collections, American Forests covers the Forest Service well, from its beginnings to its most recent controversies. The book is an excellent starting point for those interested in environmental issues facing the nation, the environmental movement, and the Forest Service at century’s end. American Forests begins with the tale of how the Service emerged from its roots in the nineteenth century, with the best intentions and highest values. Trained by the idealistic Progressive chief forester, Gifford Pinchot, the early leaders of the Forest Service operated for decades under the influence of the founding principle of disinterested scientific stewardship of the nation’s forests. Pressures of the national emergencies of World War II and the Cold War, and of an expanding economy, then led the Service inexorably to regard lumbering as the highest use of the forests. The result was to turn the nation’s forests into either timber farms or clearcut wastelands. In the last few decades, the Service has faced continuing obstacles in its attempt to retreat from a destructive, high-production approach to forestry, and to return to the more responsible stewardship of the pre-war years. Miller has done an exemplary job in se lecting essays for this comprehensive collection. They are accessible and valuable examples of the field, written by many leading scholars. American Forests and Out of the Woods together are excellent introductions and handbooks to the young and still developing field of environmental history. Mark Stoll teaches in the history department at Texas Tech University. His book, Protestantism, Capitalism, and Nature in America, is available from dth University of New Mexico Press. 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 5, 1998