Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run
A Call to Save the Earth
Paperback, 208 pages
"I was not always unreasonable, and I am sorry for that."
As executive director of the Sierra Club through the 1950s and '60s, David Brower spearheaded its landmark campaigns, launched its publishing program, and, in Jerry Mander's words, "essentially vaulted the ecology movement into … a major international force." Above all, as Amory Lovins observes, Brower was the movement's charismatic pied piper, inspiring countless young people—Lovins included—"to give up safe, conventional … unrewarding career tracks … to save the world."
This small but incendiary and vastly entertaining volume, now back in print after a few years' absence, is vintage Brower, recounting events from his life and times as preludes to his siren songs on behalf of the Earth. His voice is, as always, erudite but never pedantic, beautifully cadenced, infuriatingly opinionated, and spiced with dry humor. And his insights are uncannily prescient, with projects he called for in the early 1990s now coming to pass: the adoption of hybrid cars, urban core infilling, wildlife corridors, and more. We also get telling glimpses of Brower's other sides: as a leading mountaineer and officer in the famed 10th Mountain Division during WWII and as an innovative and discerning editor.
It is wholly typical of the man that his tale begins at a Grateful Dead concert, where he is composing a speech in his head, puzzling out how to move the young audience to as much passion for conservation as they express for their music. With this delightful book available once again, still more young (and not-so-young) people can be moved by Brower's words.
David Brower, widely considered to be the founder of the modern environmental movement, was executive director of the Sierra Club, founder of Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute, and the author/editor of many Sierra Club Exhibit Format books. A half-dozen years before Brower's death, journalist Steve Chapple recorded and edited his reminiscences. Chapple is the author of seven books, including Kayaking the Full Moon; he lives in La Jolla, California.