John Muir was a fascinating man who was many things: inventor, scientist, revolutionary, druid (a modern day Celtic priest), husband, son, father and friend, and a shining son of the Scottish Enlightenment -- both in temperament and intellect. Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak, bring us a story that evolves as Muir’s life did, from one of outdoor adventure into one of ecological guardianship---Muir went from impassioned author to leading activist. The book is not just an engaging and dramatic profile of Muir, but an expose on glaciers, and their importance in the world today. Muir shows us how one person changed America, helped it embrace its wilderness, and in turn, gave us a better world.
December 2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of Muir’s death. Muir died of a broken heart, some say, when Congress voted to approve the building of Hetch Hetchy Dam in Yosemite National Park. Perhaps in the greatest piece of environmental symbolism in the U.S. in a long time, on the California ballot this November is a measure to dismantle the Hetch Hetchy Dam.
Muir’s legacy is that he reordered our priorities and contributed to a new scientific revolution that was picked up a generation later by Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, and is championed today by influential writers like E.O. Wilson and Jared Diamond. Heacox will take us into how Muir changed our world, advanced the science of glaciology and popularized geology. How he got people out there. How he gave America a new vision of Alaska, and of itself.
Visit him at www.kimheacox.com.
"Fascinating...A wonderfully personal biography of Muir......The book is an engaging and informative look at Muir and his life’s work, as well as a timely call to action that poses difficult questions to the reader and the philosophies that underpin modern life." --Publishers Weekly [Starred Review]
“A gripping biography of "a gentle rebel, a talkative hermit, an enthusiastic wanderer, a distant son of the Scottish Enlightenment, inspired by ice." --Kirkus Reviews [Starred Review]
"Long a highly regarded member of Alaska’s literary establishment, Heacox is at the top of his game here. The science is fascinating, the prose is poetic, and the story weaves a long-lasting geographic spell." --Booklist [Starred Review]
“In a graceful coda noting the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act and other conservationist legislation, Heacox transfers Muir’s mind-set into the present day.”- The Boston Globe
"Stunning...Heacox is a literary companion Muir would certainly endorse." --Alaska Dispatch
“In this compelling narrative, Kim Heacox brings us the man the Tlingits called the “great ice chief” and shows that Alaska was an equally powerful force in shaping Muir’s views and igniting the passion – part religion, part science – that burned so brightly in his soul. It’s a welcome corrective. As Muir himself said, ‘A man who neither believes in God nor glaciers must be… the worst kind of unbeliever.’” - Dayton Duncan, author of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea
“There couldn’t be a more gifted or qualified writer than Kim Heacox to tell the story of John Muir’s travels to Alaska and his passion for glaciers. This beautifully crafted and meticulously researched book chronicles Muir’s journeys with the kind of detail that puts readers beside him in a rain-drenched canoe, paddling into an ice-cold, unknown land where glaciers are sages, 300-foot-tall ancients telling the story of where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Muir realized more than one hundred years ago that the planet was warming. Ice never lies, Heacox shows us. If only we would listen” - Debra McKinney, coauthor of Beyond the Bear
“Kim Heacox has sculpted for us the pure John Muir, the passionate high priest of Nature, out scaling his beloved glaciers, far from the spiritual contaminations of the madding modern world. Heacox’s storytelling is a delight. His portrait of Muir is indelible. For lovers of the outdoors, his new book is a rare treasure, limned in prose vivid enough to chew and to paint with.” - Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole the American Dream?
Praise for The Only Kayak
"A tender chronicle of a miracle in process." Kirkus Reviews
"Kim Heacox has outdone himself. This book is funny, sad, erudite, and beautifully written, and an important contribution to Alaska literature. It’s a rarity – a book that manages to convey an important environmental message without sliding into self-absorbed intellectualism… As a student of Alaska literature and a professional writer, I’m grateful for this book. " - Nick Jans, author of A Wolf Called Romeo