Acclaimed by The New York Times Book Review for his "major contribution to the literature of environmental studies," Stephen J. Pyne now focuses on the Grand Canyon he fell in love with during his fifteen years as a firefighter there. Merging ...
environmental, social, intellectual, political, and economic history, How the Canyon Became Grand is both a chronicle of discovery, from Spanish conquistadors to exploring geologists like John Wesley Powell and Clarence Dutton, and a provocative explanation of how the Canyon found its niche in the American psyche. Spurned as worthless by the first Spanish explorers, it took three more centuries of desultory contact, and major shifts in Western attitudes toward nature, geology, and the land itself, before a complex coalescence of science, art, literature, nationalism, and personalities turned the Canyon, within a handful of years, into a cultural emblem. Today it attracts over five million sightseers a year, and is regarded as one of the great natural wonders of the world. Yet it continues to be the focus of national debates, particularly about the character of American environmentalism. This extraordinary book, complete with photographs, maps, and charts, but sized to fit into any backpack, casts fascinating new light on a natural phenomenon that mirrors the making of our nation. A tour de force.