from the foreword . . .

Although Thomas Jefferson argued that no one generation has the right to encroach upon another generation's freedom, the futures right to know the freedom of wilderness is going fast. It need not go at all. A tragic loss could be prevented if only there could be broader understanding of this: that the resources of the earth do not exist just to be spent for the comfort, pleasure, or convenience of the generation or two who first learn how to spend them; that one of these is wilderness, wherein the flow of life, in its myriad forms, has gone on since the beginning of life, essentially uninterrupted by man and his technology; that this, wilderness, is worth saving for what it can mean to itself as part of the conservation ethic; that the saving is imperative to civilization and all mankind, whether or not all men yet know it. . . .

    This is the American Earth epitomizes what the Sierra Club, since its founding in 1892 by John Muir, has been seeking on behalf of the nation's scenic resources and needs to pursue harder in the times to come. The book is by far the most important work the club has published and the debt is enormous to Ansel Adams for his inspiration of the book, his photographs, and his guidance, and to Nancy Newhall for the organization of the book and the power of its text. It is a stirring book.

    It needs to be stirring, stirring of love for the earth, of a suspicion that what man is capable of doing to the earth is not always what he ought to do, of a renewed hope for the wide spacious freedom that can remain in the midst of the American earth.


                      Executive Director, Sierra Club            

Lupine Meadows, the Tetons
August 23, 1959