Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bernard DeVoto

Bernard DeVoto writes in his essay Footnotes on the West that art, literature, and life are all bound to the seasons. True. True.

DeVoto is not as well known as other writers who write passionately about conservation, The West, and public lands. I read Stegner’s biography, The UnEasy Chair fifteen years ago when I was reading everything Stegner wrote, but didn’t really remember much of it.

I read an old article in the August 08, 1994 issue of High Country News about DeVoto and how the FBI investigated him most of his adult life because he was so outspoken in the 30s and 40s; specifically writing an essay about “government spying, Red-baiting, blacklisting and Communist witch hunts that swept across America after World War II.”

So now I’m reading DeVoto’s West – History, Conservation, and the Public Good which is a compilation of some of his essays edited by Edward K. Muller. This is a good book. It’s interesting to think about how his writings in mainstream newspapers and magazine in the east really changed public opinion about how to manage western lands. He convinced many politians that western public lands need to be managed by the federal government to ensure the they were not sold to public interests. We would, for sure, have a different west, if not for his voice.

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