Staff Pick

While the original pilgrims really did host a feast attended by Indigenous peoples in 1621, the occasion neither marked the Natives’ welcome to the Europeans nor initiated an annual event; for the Plymouth colonists, a “day of Thanksgiving” called for fasting and prayer, not a feast, while for the ninety Wampanoag in attendance the gathering signaled merely a local alliance—not a general invitation to take their lands. In This Land Is Their Land (Bloomsbury, $32) David J. Silverman, the author of Thundersticks, looks afresh at a tradition that doesn’t commemorate a historical occasion as much as reflect the accretion of a set of half-truths. Examining four centuries of politics, erasures, and myths, he counters the traditionally one-sided story of the national holiday by putting it into the context of Native American history and culture—both of which pre-dated the European “discovery” of territory neither “wild nor “new,” just as they have survived U.S. efforts to write them out of the nation’s record. Focusing on the Wampanoag, Silverman delves deeply into indigenous rituals, beliefs, hierarchies, methods of warfare, economies, and much more, highlights where Natives and Europeans were most likely to misunderstand each other, and, noting that “the question…is how to move forward,” takes the narrative though Thanksgiving’s latest iteration as the National Day of Mourning.

This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632869241
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - November 5th, 2019

Staff Pick

Since discovering that “traveling…assuaged something in me,” Barry Lopez has gone all over the world; in his extraordinary Horizon (Knopf, $30) he revisits places that have meant the most to him in North and South America, Africa, Australia, and both poles. As he’s done in previous work, notably his classic Arctic Dreams, Lopez not only writes brilliantly about the natural world, he also refl ects on what life really means in particular locales. He considers things from an anthropological perspective, asking how the earliest native peoples might have experienced their land, sky, and sea, then struggles to do likewise. He combines insatiable curiosity with a profoundly moral sensibility, looking to ancient cultures for answers to today’s challenges, especially climate change, violence, and human rights. He deeply believes that the answers are there, and that if we listen carefully to our own and the planet’s past, we can rediscover what the elders of traditional cultures knew: “the wisdom of what works.” If this sounds naïve or superficial, read this book. Lopez grounds his ideas in specific places, and his descriptions of these deserts, seas, jungles, and coasts—and especially his near-mystical experiences while watching flamingos on the Galápagos and penguins on the Ross Ice Shelf--are heartstoppingly lucid and beautiful, and there’s no better definition of truth than that.

Horizon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394585826
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - March 19th, 2019

Staff Pick

Profoundly rooted in the landscape and spiritual traditions of the American West, Terry Tempest Williams has long been one of our most passionate and eloquent advocates of the natural world. In forums ranging from children’s books and memoirs to congressional testimony and acts of civil disobedience, she’s mounted a tireless campaign to redirect our priorities from exploiting natural resources to appreciating natural beauty, urging us to understand that “the outer wilderness mirrors our inner wilderness”—if we destroy one, we destroy the other. Written since 2012, the essays of Erosion (Sarah Crichton, $27) redouble the urgency of this message, showing how much we’re losing as the Trump administration cedes public lands to oil companies and cuts the Bears Ears National Monument by 85%. As she witnesses the immense damage of these policies, Williams doesn’t despair but continues to draw strength from the land itself. While statements like “we are one with the land” and “What if the survival of the fittest is the survival of compassion?” may sound like platitudes, over and over, Williams demonstrates their substance. In one of the most moving parts of this affecting book, as Williams mourns her late brother, she takes her grief to the Utah desert that formed her, finding in its red sandstone consolation and even a measure of hope.

Erosion: Essays of Undoing Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374280062
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Sarah Crichton Books - October 8th, 2019