New Ebook Traces Theodore Roosevelt’s Environmental Legacy
By the time he left the presidency, Theodore Roosevelt had saved 230 million hectares of America. The new book describes Roosevelt’s efforts to fight for their natural rights and highlights the pros and cons of his natural leadership.
Here & Now Robin Youg talks to them David Gessner, author “Leave It at: Journey Through the American Desert of Theodore Roosevelt.”
Boo Summary: ‘Leave It As It Is’
Author David Gessner
First: Theodore Edge
He is standing on the edge of the earth, a great reddish-brown crater open beneath him. The ravens go up and up the wind. They are fighting for power right now. This means that they often wake up.
Curious, always curious, loving the world as well as books about this. On a hike up through the small jungle jungle, they are constantly shown, pointing and naming all the birds they have seen of their friends. From his horse he learned chickadees and towhees and pinyon jays and nutchches – their vocals higher than those coming from the east – and he stood up to hear the sound of a woodcutter opening a nut. He knows the birds, he knows their names, and he knows this canyon, too, even to this day only through the words of others.
The president came here with hopes, like almost everyone. Early explorers may not have known what to make of the canyon, and the first white explorers may have been puzzled, even enraged, by what they saw as a large cesspool pit in the west. But for more than a hundred years, almost everyone who comes here to South Rim, who travels from the desert to the sparkling pine, knows that something is amiss. Theodore Roosevelt is no different: even before he met the site, he had seen paintings and photographs, and read more. Instead, he wrote down the details of an hour’s drive from here – when he spoke to a group of 800 people gathered near the canyon – not to mention the Grand Canyon. He did this, as he does many things, in a hurry, booking this morning in his sleeping car as his train passed through New Mexico and Arizona.
For the past month his life has been dramatic and quiet, as he travels on his private train to some of North America’s most beautiful and spectacular scenery, and then, to say the least, he runs to the next destination. It is 1903, and he is on a journey to rehabilitate, the first of the presidential race, when he will travel more than a hundred miles a day, by train and car, and speak about two hundred. The sleeper and the non-drinker (always has a lot of sugar please), he struggles with plans and schemes, the thoughts always come into his head, his famous interest that passes, and maybe sometimes enters. “We are human beings somewhere,” poet Poet Reg Saner will one day write. Teddy is also somewhere more than most.
Unless they do. Thanks to the ambitious man, eager to move on to the next job, he is surprisingly modest at the time, in what we might call it, in words that would no doubt be difficult, because he is here. Whether you’re gazing down the grizzly or diving into Washington’s tropical waters, DC’s Rock Creek Park or listening to windy music rocking the cottonwood leaves, they seem to have the gift of intrusion. This comes mainly from building a home with her children on White House lawns. Even when burdened by the president, they can do little to please him.
Nothing takes him away from himself, nothing comforts his unstable, knowledge-filled, senseless mind, like nature. He had already left camp in Yellowstone, walking just eighteen miles to study a group of elk. And in less than two weeks his 14,000-mile[4,000 km]voyage will culminate when he leaves the Secret Servicemen behind and embarks on a triumphant march with the great spokesman and conservationist John Muir. The trip to Yosemite will long be remembered as the most famous voyage since Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. Think of it. The president of the United States is sleeping outside under the stars with a well-known environmentalist in the country. Much from the night is small but we know that the president objected to what the bird knew and that the prophet doubted the bloodshed of the president as a hunter. But I wonder what else happened when he stared at the fire and spoke? Perhaps the form of osmosis affected Roosevelt. Perhaps the idea that the desert was important, not only for human purpose, but for themselves, began to grow.
That the seed of this knowledge, of this love, already existed is certain. All you have to do is go back and read the man’s sentences. Not jingoistic, chest-beating, American rants for the first time or a bloody description of things. But the word in the middle. White sentences describing the tranquility of an early morning or morning filled with the sound of birds chirping, or a simple description of a North Dakota Badlands nightclub: I slept and slept until the evening shadows filled the wild and beautiful valley I had built. This was the first time, because the valley was narrow and the mountains on both sides were high and tall.
Theodore Roosevelt discovered it, something that few people, and no other president, understood and felt the same way. The danger that there are countries beyond the human world. Muir probably helped him change, but Roosevelt already knew. He must have been a dictator, a tyrant, a failure, bound by the prejudices of his day, but in this case he was different. To say that he was ahead of his time would be an understatement, since many ancient thinkers, especially many Indians, held similar views in the past. But whatever he does wrong, in this way he is probably out of his time, and his culture. Not by hugging hunting or climbing mountains or climbing birds, all that was advanced (and becoming part of it for her). But in the beginning something deep. The idea that there is a world out there that doesn’t really care about the grid that lives on top of it. The natural notion that we are one animal in a multicultural world, equal happiness, and freedom, which people can only feel when they leave on their own and understand this.
Perhaps this gives Roosevelt more credit. Other than that, they often respond to the beautiful things they see in nature by killing them. And his interest in the world was realized thanks to his interest in Theodore Roosevelt. So let me repeat what I said before, very humbly. The man had a gift for going abroad.