Drawing on forty thousand pages of correspondence and dozens of his diaries, this biography explores the life of one of America's great conservationists, a founder of The National Audubon Society and the namesake of Mount Grinnell in Glacier National Park.
Taliaferro masterfully attends to the long, busy arc of his subject's life, scouring some 40,000 pages of Grinnell's letters, numerous diaries, and travelogs, years of Forest and Stream articles, plus his monographs to create a satisfying portrait. The reader's reward is a sense of nature, native culture, and landscapes as viewed through an observant explorer's eyes, at the moment when Westward expansion was irrevocably changing it ... This richly detailed biography will engage students of environmental history and general readers alike.
Readers may sometimes feel overwhelmed by the scope of Mr. Taliaferro’s coverage, but few will dispute that he does justice to his subject ... While Mr. Taliaferro’s admiration for his subject is unmistakable, Grinnell is no hagiography. The man was not ahead of his time but embedded within it, acting with the lofty confidence typical of the patrician WASP milieu in which he lived and operated ... Mr. Taliaferro sums up Grinnell as 'the prototype of the city-dwelling environmentalist whose conscience and money today fuel organizations such as the Sierra Club.'
In John Taliaferro’s book, we finally have an exhaustively detailed biography of an inexhaustible man who deserves his place in the pantheon of environmental founders ... There is far too much detail about peripheral matters that do little to enhance the character or his passions ... He is coy — annoyingly so — about whether Grinnell, who married late in life, might have been gay ... Grinnell’s memory lives on in the wild. And with this book, he is given the fresh look that he deserves.