The acclaimed, award-winning historian—“America’s new past master” (Chicago Tribune)—examines the environmental legacy of FDR and the New Deal.
Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior celebrated Theodore Roosevelt’s spirit of outdoor exploration and bold vision to protect 234 million acres of wild America. Now, in Rightful Heritage, Brinkley turns his attention to the other indefatigable environmental leader—Teddy’s distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, chronicling his essential yet under-sung legacy as the founder of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and premier protector of America’s public lands. FDR built from scratch dozens of State Park systems and scenic roadways. Pristine landscapes such as the Great Smokies, the Everglades, Joshua Tree, the Olympics, Big Bend, Channel Islands, Mammoth Cave, and the slickrock wilderness of Utah were forever saved by his leadership.
Brinkley traces FDR’s love for the natural world from his youth exploring the Hudson River Valley and bird watching. As America’s president from 1933 to 1945, Roosevelt—consummate political strategist—established hundreds of federal migratory bird refuges and spearheaded the modern endangered species movement. He brilliantly positioned his conservation goals as economic policy to combat the severe unemployment of the Great Depression. During its nine-year existence, the CCC put nearly three million young men to work on conservation projects—including building trails in the national parks, pollution control, land restoration to combat the Dust Bowl, and planting over two billion trees.
Rightful Heritage is an epic chronicle that is both an irresistible portrait of FDR’s unrivaled passion and drive, and an indispensable analysis that skillfully illuminates the tension between business and nature—exploiting our natural resources and conserving them. Within the narrative are brilliant capsule biographies of such environmental warriors as Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes, and Rosalie Edge. Rightful Heritage is essential reading for everyone seeking to preserve our treasured landscapes as an American birthright.
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About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, a CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. In the world of public history, he serves on boards, at museums, at colleges, and for historical societies. The Chicago Tribune dubbed him “America’s New Past Master.” The New-York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley as its official U.S. Presidential Historian. His recent book Cronkite won the Sperber Prize, while The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He was awarded a Grammy for Presidential Suite and is the recipient of seven honorary doctorates in American studies. His two-volume, annotated Nixon Tapes recently won the Arthur S. Link–Warren F. Kuehl Prize. He is a member of the Century Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Education of a Hudson River Conservationist, 1882-1932
Chapter 1 "All That is in Me Goes Back to the Hudson" 3
Chapter 3 "I Just Wish I Could be at Home to Help Mark the Trees" 27
Chapter 4 "He Knew Every Tree, Every Rock, and Every Stream" 47
Chapter 5 "Wise Use" 65
Chapter 5 "Nothing Like Mother Nature" 92
Chapter 6 "A Twice-Born Man" 122
Part 2 New Deal Conservation, 1933-1936
Chapter 7 "They've Made the Good Earth Better" 159
Chapter 8 "He Did Not Wait to Ask Questions, But Simply Said that it Should Be Done" 187
Chapter 9 "Roosevelt Is My Shepherd" 213
Chapter 10 "The Year of the National Park" 238
Chapter 11 "A Duck for Every Puddle" 268
Chapter 12 "Sooner Or Later, You are Likely to Meet the Sign of the Flying Goose" 298
Chapter 13 "We Are Going to Conserve Soil, Conserve Water, and Conserve Life" 330
Part 3 Conservation Expansion, 1937-1939
Chapter 14 "While You're Gittin', Git A-Plenty" 361
Chapter 15 "I Hope the Son-of-a-Bitch Who Logged that is Roasting in Hell" 389
Chapter 16 "Perpetuated For Posterity" 420
Chapter 17 "To Benefit Wildlife" 455
Part 4 World War II and Global Conservation, 1940-1945
Chapter 18 "An Abundance of Wild Things" 485
Chapter 19 "The Army Must Find a Different Nesting Place!" 513
Chapter 30 "Conservation is a Basis of Permanent Peace" 549
Prologue: "Where the Sundial Stands" 577
Appendix A National Park System Areas Affected Under the Reorganization of August 10, 1933 596
Appendix B National Wildlife Refuges Established Under Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945 600
Appendix C National Parks and National Monuments Created by Franklin D. Roosevelt Following the Reorganization of August 10, 1933 610
Appendix D Establishment and Modification of National Forest Boundaries by Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 1933 to April 1945 611
Appendix E The Nine Civilian Conservation Corps Areas 624
Appendix F Civilian Conservation Corps-Basic Facts 625