Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Book Review - A Summer in the High Sierra by Laurence Brauer

This book is the author's journal of a 38-day solo trip in the wilderness of the High Sierra. Brauer uses the time to contemplate man's link to nature and the errors of the assumptions mankind makes about his position in the world. 

A Summer in the High SierraThis sounded like an interesting travelogue with a twist. Indeed some of the descriptions of the landscapes revealed to the author sounded beautiful and made me want to get my tent out and head for the UK's countryside. There are a number of pictures some of which show up better than others on the kindle. The ones I was best able to see gave me a better idea of the views the author enjoyed. I would really like to be able to see the colour images. There are also quotes from the books of previous notable accounts of the area with footnotes. I would like to have seen those footnotes properly linked for ease of navigation, because I found myself ignoring them rather than going through the necessary manoeuvring via the menus. I would also have appreciated a couple of maps, one of the general area as my US geography is somewhat limited, and one of the route.

I started the book enjoying the read and paying close attention but as I got into the second half I found my attention starting to drift and I began skimming. There were two reasons for this; I found the author's meditations on religion and spirituality a bit too abstract for me, and I disagreed with his ideas on environmentalism, and his distaste for certain others hiking in the area wasn't palatable. I think to save something you have to get people engaged with it, and it sounds like he would rather most of the people he encounters were not allowed to hike the area.

As he ponders on mankind needing to undo the harm it has done to the planet I read on expecting and hoping for some ideas of what he was doing personally or what he felt others could do but that never came. He seems to espouse the idea that while we shouldn't start taking back developed land we should halt any further development. This is a book review, not a debate so I won't go into a long winded description of why I disagree. I also thought some of his actions were quite contradictory, unless he is only concerned with protecting the High Sierra rather than countryside and wilderness globally.

This was a good read in places and a lot of my negatives are down to personal opinions rather than it being a bad book but I still can't say more than it was okay.

Format: Kindle, review copy
Publisher: Half Meadow Press
My Rating: 2*

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