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Hope’s Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land

Hope’s Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land
Chip Ward
Island Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 350 p., $27.00

Chip Ward’s book should serve as a cautionary tale for all of us. Despite much pessimism on the part of concerned activists about the mess we have made of our environment, this book offers a number of possibilities for reversing the damage done by over–engineering our natural resources. As Ward states in his Prologue, "There is good news. Increasingly, environmental politics is turning to thoughtful proposals aimed at healing whole ecosystems that have been stripped of their diversity and connectivity and at abandoning technologies that are incompatible with life itself."

The book is divided into three sections: "Reconnection," "Restoration," and "Abolition." The chapter titles immediately catch your imagination: "I Used to Stomp on Grasshoppers, but Oysters Made Me Stop," "Faux Flood: Diverting Disaster by Inviting Chaos," and "First They Killed John Wayne." Although both fascinating and frightening, many of the messages are delivered with Ward’s biting wit. The scientific descriptions are often so beautifully written that they seem almost poetic. Ward does a wonderful job of explaining the intricate relationships connecting nature and how we, in our arrogance or politically driven plans, have upset this very vital and delicate balance. The final section discusses the dangerously toxic effects of our new nuclear world. Even in this, Ward finds some hope in the increased awareness of the public of these life and death issues.

This book sets forth most of the major concerns about our environment and discusses what has been done or could be done to at least partly remedy our mistakes. Ward takes the reader on a fascinating trip of three years over our country and into the political infighting in Washington and even among Sierra Club members. He introduces us to some memorable environmental activists such as Michael Soulé or Sue Morse. This was both an enlightening and entertaining journey.

— Joan Richards, volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden