Based on twenty years of living and traveling in the West, the collection includes essays on river running, backcountry skiing, fly fishing, and backpacking—all describing various attempts to engage in meaningful contact with the elements of wild nature. The essays use backcountry experiences as occasions for reflection on such topics as nature and culture, conservation, and the human relation to the wild. While the essays function within the tradition of western nature writing, they transcend regional issues insofar as they maintain a broader philosophical context that accounts for such global concerns as mass extinction and climate change.

 

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Thirteen literary short stories set in northern Michigan describe the coming of age of Jack Young.  Jack works at a canoe livery on the Platte River in what is now Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  The stories focus on his efforts to find meaning in a world that seems increasingly dishonest.  Jack's uncompromising search for truth becomes the source of his defiance.

 

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Martha Maxwell, 1831-1881, was an innovative taxidermist whose skills changed the craft.  She was among the first taxidermists to display animal specimens in their natural habitats.  At the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, Martha created a sensation with her display of 400 birds and more than 100 animals. Her exhibit was described as a "startling revelation of what a woman can do in one of the most difficult fields of art," and made her famous throughout the nation. This biography written for young readers tells the story of her life.

 

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Born in the Khumbu region of northeast Nepal, Pemba Sherpa entered the trekking industry at age fourteen, working his way up to become a full-time Himalayan guide. At nineteen, he moved to the U.S. where he operated his own climbing and trekking company for twenty years, guiding clients on adventures around the world.  Today, Pemba is a successful businessman in Colorado, committed to improving the lives of Sherpas in Khumbu.  With a foot in two worlds, Pemba shares his unique perspective on the Everest expedition industry, life in America, and the changing Sherpa culture.