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Yearning for the Land:

A Search for the Importance of Place

John Warfield Simpson


Yearning for the Land:
A Search for the Importance of Place
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Binding: Cloth
Ecology; Natural History; 5 1/2" x 8 1/4", 304 pp. 0-375-42086-X $24 EAN: 9780375420863

Publisher's Press Release


Yearning for the Land: A Search for the Importance of Place

What does landscape mean to us? How does it shape our sense of "rootedness" to place and our connection to community and family? Landscape historian John Warfield Simpson sets out to answer these questions by following the journey of the great conservationist John Muir from his homeland in Scotland to his adopted home in Wisconsin.

In 1849 the Muir family immigrated to America in search of religious and economic opportunity. What concept of land did they and millions of others from the Old World leave behind, and what did they find in their New World homes? John Warfield Simpson physically retraces the Muirs' journey as he delves into the meaning and importance of place in three different societies.

Simpson speaks with estate owners and tenant farmers in Scotland who have centuries-long ties to the land they own or work; to Wisconsin farmers for whom one hundred years measures a profound connection to place; and to Native Americans working to reclaim the land they lost to white pioneers like the Muirs and to the author's own Scottish ancestors. Among all of these people Simpson discovers a powerful link between personal and communal history, and a deep connection to the land on which they have been played out.


John Warfield Simpson is the author of Visions of Paradise: Glimpses of Our Landscape's Legacy. A professor of landscape architecture and natural resources at Ohio State University, he lives in Upper Arlington, Ohio.


"An evocative, detailed, and powerful analysis of the landscape values underlying both the North American immigrant experience and contemporary environmental values."
- John Stilgoe, author of Outside Lies Magic

"A fresh and unusual book - part biography of John Muir, part personal travels, part meditation on what it means to belong to a place. Exceptionally readable and thought-provoking."
- Donald Worster, author of The Wealth of Nature

"Place, as John Simpson knows well, is a multifaceted composite of history, natural environment and personal experience. A sense and valuation of place may hold the secret to living lovingly and sustainably on this endangered planet."
- Roderick Frazier Nash, author of Wilderness and the American Mind

"Yearning for the Land is an eloquent and evocative insight into the power of landscape and place in the human experience. Simpson skillfully links the story of people and the land in Scotland and the USA by following the journey of John Muir, the Father of the modern conservation movement, from the Old World to the New. A fascinating read."
- Professor T. M. Devine, University of Aberdeen, author of The Scottish Nation

"We are not doomed to live in abject spiritual disconnection from our American landscape. John Warfield Simpson's lyrical book is a signpost on the road back to a national life based on places that are worth caring about."
- James Howard Kunstler, author of the Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere

"Through the immigration experience of John Muir, John Warfield Simpson tells how rootedness in place and past informs the present and future, how old attachments to homelands shape new bonds to adopted ones. This is not a litany of dates and detached ghosts but an eloquent story of deep ties to true landscapes and the ways that we bless and mark them."
- Ellen Meloy, author of The Anthropology of Turquoise


Publisher's Page on this Book


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