Nature and Environmental Book Reviews

Short List of Best Nature and Environmental Books



Henry David Thoreau: Progenitor of American Nature Writing

by David Yarian, Ph.D.

Henry David Thoreau can fairly be said to be the progenitor of American nature writing. Walden, his masterpiece of contemplative observation of nature and himself, is a classic of American literature.

Thoreau blended keen observation of nature, an inquiring mind, a willingness to examine himself and his fellows, an insistence on independence and self-reliance, his belief that Nature was a transcendental force, and his stylistic powers to create a unique and lasting contribution to American letters.

After Walden, the observer of nature is also to be observed. This book has set the tone for much subsequent American writing about nature: scientifically rigorous, grounded in clear-sighted observations of nature; and keenly self-aware.

In this section entitled Henry David Thoreau and Walden are Thoreau's primary works, and some of the best criticism that looks at his impact on American writing and culture. Thoreau's journals were the raw material from which he crafted his published works; they are a rich resource for those who would know more of the man and his world.