Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Deserts on the March

Sears' most popular book was Deserts on the March, very timely in these days of global warming and renewed assault on the natural environment. Here's a review that appeared in the New Yorker magazine on April 4, 1936. It has no byline, but was probably written by Clifton Fadiman.

Deserts on the March, by Paul B Sears.

A timely and monitory little book on the conservation of our natural resources. The work of a scientist who is also a philosopher of history and a writer of considerable talent, it deserves to be widely read.

And it was, in fact, widely read and often reprinted. First published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 1935, reprinted in 1937, 1940, revised in 1947 and again in 1959, reprinted (at least) in 1964, 1966, 1967, and 1980, Deserts on the March was last published, to the best of my knowledge, by Island Press in 1988.

This is, in short, not a book that failed to find its audience. More than 70 years after its first appearance but less than 20 years from its most recent publication, neither the book nor its author are much remembered or cited. Here's how Sears saw it in the new closing chapter he wrote for the 1947 revision:

“I have said that the moral problem of conservation is far more serious than the technical. I am using the word moral in its broad and ancient sense, as including anything that involves human choice. There are signs of increasing will toward protection of our natural resources.”

No comments: