In this beautifully written account, John Thomas details an intimate portrait of the intellectual friendship between two commanding figures of western letters and the early environmental movement--Wallace Stegner and Bernard DeVoto.. The authors of enormously popular works--Stegner most well known for his novels The Big Rock Candy Mountain and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose and DeVoto for his classic history of western exploration, The Course of Empire--they also played important roles in the efforts to stop government and private interests from carving up the vanishing West. Part of the fractious group of public intellectuals at Harvard that included Edmund Wilson, Mary McCarthy, and Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., they saw no contradiction between their literary and political selves and entered the public debate with conviction and passion.
Drawing on their writings, personal correspondence, and dozens of articles from the pages of Harper's, where DeVoto was a columnist for years, this illuminating account demonstrates how their concerns for the western environment continue to resonate today.
John L. Thomas is the George L. Littlefield Professor of American History at Brown University. He is the author of several works, including The Liberator: William Lloyd Garrison. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
"Thomas succeeds in pulling together an impressive array of information as he shifts between the lives of Stegner and DeVoto and their shared interests...[he] offers us the lives of two American writers whose voices deserve to be heard." -- Rocky Mountain News
"Elegant...Thomas has honored both men with an essay that students of the American West won't want to miss." -- Publisher's Weekly
"Thomas sets up shop in DeVoto and Stegner's heads, right where he ought to be for this intellectually spirited biographical essay." -- Kirkus Reviews