The untold story of an extraordinary struggle to defend American wilderness from political cronyism, and the radical couple who led the charge, comes to life in Nate Schweber’s This America of Ours: Bernard and Avis DeVoto and the Forgotten Fight to Save the Wild. Schweber will read from and discuss his newest book on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Elk River Books.
“In late-1940s America, few writers commanded attention like Bernard DeVoto. Alongside his brilliant wife and editor, Avis, DeVoto was a firebrand of American liberty, free speech, and perhaps our greatest national treasure: public lands. But when a corrupt band of lawmakers, led by Sen. Pat McCarran, sought to quietly cede millions of acres of national parks and other Western lands to logging, mining, and private industry, the DeVotos entered the fight of their lives. Bernard and Avis built a broad grassroots coalition to sound the alarm—from Julia and Paul Child to Ansel Adams, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Alfred Knopf, Adlai Stevenson, and Wallace Stegner—while the very pillars of American democracy, embodied in free and public access to Western lands, hung in the balance. Their dramatic crusade would earn them censorship and blacklisting by Joe McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and Roy Cohn, and it even cost Bernard his life.”
Michael Punke, author of The Revenant, writes, “This America of Ours is so many fantastic things all at the same time: the story of a complex marriage, the history of one of our most important historians, and a razor’s-edge drama about a critical fight to preserve America’s public lands. And Schweber manages to tell all these stories in a thoroughly gripping narrative, a story whose pages I could not wait to turn.”
Schweber is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times and Anthony Bourdain’s Explore Parts Unknown. His conservation articles have won awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America in 2015 and 2018. In 2020, a ProPublica series he contributed to won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. Originally from Montana, he now lives in Brooklyn.
The free event will take place at 7 p.m. at Elk River Books, 122 S. 2nd St. in Livingston.