Crisis Of The Wasteful Nation: Empire And Conservation In Theodore Roosevelt's America

Hardcover | January 19, 2015

byIan Tyrrell

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Long before people were “going green” and toting reusable bags, the Progressive generation of the early 1900s was calling for the conservation of resources, sustainable foresting practices, and restrictions on hunting. Industrial commodities such as wood, water, soil, coal, and oil, as well as improvements in human health and the protection of “nature” in an aesthetic sense, were collectively seen for the first time as central to the country’s economic well-being, moral integrity, and international power. One of the key drivers in the rise of the conservation movement was Theodore Roosevelt, who, even as he slaughtered animals as a hunter, fought to protect the country’s natural resources.

In Crisis of the Wasteful Nation, Ian Tyrrell gives us a cohesive picture of Roosevelt’s engagement with the natural world along with a compelling portrait of how Americans used, wasted, and worried about natural resources in a time of burgeoning empire. Countering traditional narratives that cast conservation as a purely domestic issue, Tyrrell shows that the movement had global significance, playing a key role in domestic security and in defining American interests around the world. Tyrrell goes beyond Roosevelt to encompass other conservation advocates and policy makers, particularly those engaged with shaping the nation’s economic and social policies—policies built on an understanding of the importance of crucial natural resources. Crisis of the Wasteful Nation is a sweeping transnational work that blends environmental, economic, and imperial history into a cohesive tale of America’s fraught relationships with raw materials, other countries, and the animal kingdom.

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Long before people were “going green” and toting reusable bags, the Progressive generation of the early 1900s was calling for the conservation of resources, sustainable foresting practices, and restrictions on hunting. Industrial commodities such as wood, water, soil, coal, and oil, as well as improvements in human health and the prote...

Ian Tyrrell was the Scientia Professor of History at the University of New South Wales, Sydney until his retirement in 2012. He is the author of nine books, including True Gardens of the Gods: Californian-Australian Environmental Reform, 1860–1930 and Historians in Public, also published by the University of Chicago Press. 

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:January 19, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022619776X

ISBN - 13:9780226197760

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Table of Contents

Preface
Abbreviations


Part I: The Origins of Alarm

One / Alarmism and the Wasteful Nation
Two / American Conservation and the “World Movement”: Networks, Personnel, and the International Context

Part II: The New Empire and the Rise of Conservation

Three / Colonies, Natural Resources, and Geopolitical Thought in the New Empire
Four / Encountering the Tropical World: The Impact of Empire
Five / Energy and Empire: Shadows of the Fossil Fuel Revolution
Six / Dynamic Geography: Irrigation, Waterways, and the Inland Empire
Seven / The Problem of the Soils and the Problem of the Toilers
Eight / Conservation, Scenery, and the Sustainability of Nature
Nine / Lessons for Living: Irving Fisher, National Vitality, and Human Conservation

Part III: The Global Vision of Theodore Roosevelt and Its Fate

Ten / To the Halls of Europe: The African Safari and Roosevelt’s Campaign to Conserve Nature (While Killing It)
Eleven / Something Big: Theodore Roosevelt and Global Conservation
Twelve / “A Senseless and Mischievous Fad?” From Alarm to Sobriety as a Nation Takes Stock
Epilogue / The Present, the Future, and the Power of Contingency in Human Life

Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Whether concerned with forests, fuel, water, or soil resources, a chain of powerful anxieties configured Progressive imaginations, he argues. Tyrrell uncovers a Progressive Era America driven less by optimistic reformist politics and more by fears of resource exhaustion and civilizational collapse. . . . Tyrrell’s study offers a powerful reminder that the blinkers of American exceptionalism, particularly regarding our understanding of a supposedly homegrown conservation movement, should not block our view of its international roots.”