Char Miller’s Gifford Pinchot Selected Writings is a curated collection of the works of Gifford Pinchot, the former governor of Pennsylvania and chief of the US Forest Service (USFS). The preeminent scholar on Pinchot, Miller’s recent work provides researchers with a number of rare and overlooked writings from the life of the famed Pennsylvanian. The author’s intent is clear: Pinchot’s own memoir Breaking New Ground and other works only provide a partial narrative on his legacy. The collection of over forty documents comprises the original and unedited drafts of Pinchot’s work that have languished in the Library of Congress and thus have evaded many scholars. Gifford Pinchot Selected Writings is divided into five chapters: Forests, Forestry, and Foresters; War and Peace; Governing the Keystone State; Water, Energy, and Power; and Natural Engagements. The first half of the collection is dedicated to Pinchot’s rise from a Yale fledgling to the head of the USFS. The young Pinchot grapples with issues such as the placement of the USFS within the federal government, the disappearance of northeastern forests, and chartering the responsibilities of the chief of the USFS. Yet Pinchot’s interests lie far beyond the forests of America. He makes clear his view that forest conservation is an international issue because the writings include his observations on global localities: Europe, America, and the Philippines. The writings also illuminate many of Pinchot’s trademark scientific assessments on soil, forest fires, and lumber production and appropriation. Those familiar with Miller’s prior work on Pinchot and environmentalism will have had some exposure to these initial entries. Pennsylvania historians will be particularly pleased with the second half of the book as it breathes life into the rough-and-tumble political pursuits of Pinchot both in and out of the Pennsylvania governor’s office. The depiction is clear. Pinchot is an outsider who battles deeply rooted political establishments. Miller has purposefully chosen frequently overlooked aspects of Pinchot’s political agenda and legacy that accent the Progressive Era and Pinchot’s role in it—Pinchot’s support of Prohibition, women’s suffrage, and American intervention into the Great War. Of note, the collection provides insight into aspects of Pinchot’s environmentalism that color domestic and worldwide disagreement even today. The writing portrays Pinchot’s environmental hurdles outside of the USFS, notably the Pinchot-Ballinger controversy (that ended his career with the USFS), Pinchot’s energetic support of Hetch Hetchy Dam, and Pinchot’s colorful battle with Henry Ford over Muscle Shoals development. All collectively reveal Pinchot battling outside the field of forestry as a knight in the service of conservation. An introduction accompanies each chapter and document that illustrates Pinchot’s influences at that time. Miller defines and links together key events and relationships that were shaping the forester’s thoughts when the respective documents were penned. These influences include German mentor Dietrich Brandis, various members of the Pinchot household, President Theodore Roosevelt, and the Pennsylvania political elite. For research-oriented scholars, Miller provides the citations for the publications in which variations of the documents were published. Since his early adulthood, Gifford Pinchot was a dedicated and rigorous writer, journaler, and record keeper. His archive is one of the largest personal collections in the US Library of Congress. Traversing and identifying key components of the archive mandates its own skill set. For this reason, much of the book’s merit lies within the curated primary documents themselves. Miller has avoided easily accessible source material that can be obtained on modern academic search engines. Instead, he provides readers with Pinchot’s raw, unedited drafts of famed speeches, articles, and correspondence. Char Miller has been mining and navigating Pinchot’s archive since his years as a graduate student, and the collection reflects his expertise. The source material coupled with Miller’s dialogue allows the book to be read as a flowing narrative rather than a series of disjointed documents. Gifford Pinchot: Selected Writings has resurrected a number of primary sources and offered them in the service of researchers and scholars. Pinchot’s unedited voice and opinions give a rare glimpse into one of America’s most significant figures. The collection and Char Miller’s commentary deserve and will no doubt receive a strong welcome from researchers of the early twentieth century and environmental history. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Environmental History and the Forest History Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Environmental History – Oxford University Press
Published: May 10, 2018
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