Book Review – The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures

4 stars. John Muir was a monumental figure to anyone who loves the outdoors: naturalist, adventurer, preservationist, and skilled mountaineer. Muir re-enactor Lee Stetson compiled some of his most hair-raising tales in The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures. Stetson introduces each story with a paragraph that places it within the context of Muir’s life.

The stories follow Muir from his childhood in Scotland, through the hardscrabble family farming in Wisconsin, then to Florida, then California and Alaska. Most of the prose is from his books and letters, with occasional contrasting voices from his travel companions. The passages by others show that, if anything, Muir tended to understate the danger and adventure of his undertakings!

Muir’s love for nature comes through very clearly, and he had a gift for evocative phrasing. Stetson edited the text to remove some of the more lengthy descriptions in favor of the adventure theme, making this volume less contemplative than Muir sometimes is. I’m glad that I read some of this book by headlamp in a tent; it just seems made for that setting.

Illustrator Fiona King contributed gorgeous woodcut-style illustrations that are perfect for this volume.

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