In Defense of Nature
“Many literary natural histories have quotations on the jackets which claim that this or that author is the modern Thoreau. They are invariably wrong, probably because the person quoted either has not read Thoreau or not understood Thoreau. John Hay is not the new Thoreau, but he is the closest thing to it we have. He manages to write descriptions of nature which seem true, and clear, and scientifically correct, and yet at the same time symbolic.”—Steve Norwick, professor in environmental studies and planning, Sonoma State University
“John Hay is one of the world’s handful of very great nature writers; I love his books with all my heart.”—Annie Dillard, author, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
“In Defense of Nature is John Hay’s strongest work. Here, for the first time, the passionate lyricism of his earlier books is combined with anger and outrage at the carelessness and arrogance with which human beings have been treating the earth. This book is one of the earliest and most powerful expressions of the global environmental dilemma, and for that reason it is even more important today than when it was first published nearly forty years ago.”—Robert Finch, author, The Iambics of Newfoundland, co-editor, The Norton Book of Nature Writing
Frequently compared to Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, and Gary Snyder, John Hay is one of this country’s greatest nature writers. Originally published in 1969, In Defense of Nature is an eloquent and prescient plea on behalf of the natural world. Devoid of sentimentality yet lyrical and deeply moving in its portrayals of our despoliation of nature, Hay’s classic work is now available to a new generation of readers.
Wendell Berry has called John Hay a “carrier of light and wisdom.” In Defense of Nature reveals why this is true. In it Hay has written an extended meditation on the environment and our place in it. Its lessons never more important, In Defense of Nature eerily presages the tenuous state of our environment and our place in it. As our technical abilities have moved forward, our judgment has not kept pace. “What we call natural resources cannot be limited to gas, oil, pulpwood, or uranium—we are starving the natural resources in ourselves. The soul needs to stretch; being needs to exercise.”