In "Travels in Alaska," John Muir brings the magnificence of the vast expanses of unexplored Alaskan territory to life. Muir's prose reveals his enthusiasm for nature, and he weaves clear and distinct pictures through his words. His writing is very personal, and his favorable feelings toward the land are very apparent. Reading "Travels in Alaska" is like reading a diary or journal. Throughout the book, Muir provides many detailed descriptions of the state. He is also very detailed in his account of the many people he meets. Anyone could read the book and find enjoyment learning about Alaska when it was for the most part unsettled. Muir also shares with the readers his keen insight upon the various Indian tribes that lived in Alaska. At one point in the book, he gives a very detailed description of one tribe's feasting and dancing. His observances capture exactly what he saw and the feelings these observances evoked in him. John Muir's writing is of high quality. He incorporates beautiful and creative similes, metaphors, and analogies. His prose is very poetic, which makes it an enjoyable read. For example, Muir says that "when we contemplate the world as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty." Muir's book, which is nothing like a textbook, will hold the reader's interest where a textbook would not. If you have not yet read this book, give it a try. Chances are good that you will be very pleased.
About the Author
John Muir (1838-1914) was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. One of the most well-known hiking trails in the U.S., the 211-mile (340 km) John Muir Trail, was named in his honor. Other places named in his honor are Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, John Muir College, Camp Muir and Muir Glacier. In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park Bill that was passed in 1899, establishing both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Because of the spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings, he was able to inspire readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. He is today referred to as the "Father of the National Parks," and the National Parks Service produced a short documentary on his life.