Cover image for No man's garden : Thoreau and a new vision for civilization and nature
No man's garden : Thoreau and a new vision for civilization and nature
Botkin, Daniel B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Island Press [for] Shearwater Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxii, 310 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH31.T485 B68 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In No Man's Garden, ecologist David Botkin takes a look at the life and writings of Henry David Thoreau to discover a model for reconciling the conflict between nature and civilization that lies at the heart of our environmental problems. He offers an insightful reinterpretation of Thoreau, drawing a surprising picture of the hermit of Walden as a man who loved wildness, but who found it in the woods and swamps on the outskirts of town as easily as in the remote forests of Maine, and who firmly believed in the value and importance of human beings and civilization.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Botkin (biology, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Our Natural History) uses the writings of Henry David Thoreau to offer a model for reconciling the perpetual conflict between nature and civilization. Humankind has always explored a person's physical and spiritual connection to nature, wondered if civilization and the environment can coexist, and questioned whether or not a person can know nature. The author believes that Thoreau's life and writings provide answers. The realization that nature is all around us, not just in huge, trackless wilderness areas, is an important first step. Beauty surrounds us, and Thoreau teaches us to accept and revel in the spirituality and creativity that flows from it. Attentiveness to our surroundings and ourselves as well as knowledge of the literature of great thinkers and writers lead each person to the tranquility of each "man's gardenthat will sustain nature and ourselves." Recommended for all libraries, especially those with environmental and philosophy collections.APatricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley Coll., Mt. Carmel, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Some equate wilderness with unimproved land; others believe that humans must leave nothing of themselves in the wilderness. Botkin (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) discusses the difference between the deep ecologist who would forever exclude humans from nature and the Wise Use Movement that would place civilization on a pedestal and ignore the ecologist. Using several examples from Henry David Thoreau's life, travels, and professional writings, Botkin shows that Thoreau, who is so often identified with the most conservative viewpoint in ecology, actually "believed instead that one function of wilderness--and therefore of all nature--was to benefit people and civilization." The book contains an excellent description of the workings of the scientific method and discusses in great detail, with examples, how Thoreau applied scientific reasoning in all of his work and how he devoted his life to resolving the conflict between spiritual value of nature and the practical applications of natural resources. Botkin's writing is both clear enough and deep enough to be of use to both general readers and professionals involved in making environmental decisions and policy. Chapter notes; further reading list. Highly recommended for anyone involved in living on planet Earth. All levels. P. R. Douville emeritus, Central Connecticut State University