George Meléndez Wright: The Fight for Wildlife and Wilderness in the National Parks

Univ. of Chicago. . Apr. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780226824949. $28. NAT HIST
Emory (San Francisco Bay Shoreline Guide) introduces the California-born naturalist to a wider public in this poignant biography of Wright (1904–36), whose life, though tragically short, was devoted to the preservation of American wilderness and wildlife. After joining the fledgling National Park Service in 1927, Wright advocated for a program of wildlife management based on scientific research and observation that would protect predators, enlarge the boundaries of parks to encompass seasonal migrations, and minimize human impacts on wild areas. Quoting from Wright’s field notes, speeches, and publications, Emory illustrates how Wright used his eloquence and his affable personality to inspire a change in thinking about the role of national parks to protect endangered species and return landscapes to their pristine state prior to European colonization. Although the book suffers slightly from a loss of chronological focus in its second half, Emory’s enumeration of Wright’s accomplishments—including a survey of wildlife in Western parks, the first of its kind—is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Emory, who is married to one of Wright’s granddaughters, has succeeded admirably in demonstrating the continuing relevance of Wright’s ideas and the value of his legacy.
VERDICT Highly recommended for nature lovers and park enthusiasts.
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