Monumental: David Brower's Fight for Wild America
David Brower might be the most important American conservationist since John Muir, and Monumental documents his crusades.
Rising from a rock-climbing background to become the executive director of the Sierra Club in 1952, Brower grew the organization from roughly 2,000 outdoorsmen to a broad-based membership of more than 75,000, and galvanized it to political action. Brower's Sierra Club spearheaded America's nascent environmental movement and ensured the survival of, among others, Kings Canyon, the Redwoods, Dinosaur National Monument, the North Cascades, Point Reyes, the Yukon -- and even blocked a plan to dam the Grand Canyon. But Brower's campaigning came at a cost: Conservative board members eventually drummed him out in 1969. Yet Brower continued his fight -- predominantly through Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute, both organizations he helped found -- until his death in 2000.