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Genealogies of Environmentalism

The Lost Works of Clarence Glacken
Clarence Glacken. Edited by S. Ravi Rajan. With Adam Romero and Michael Watts

BUY Cloth · 240 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813939070 · $75.00 · Jul 2017
BUY Paper · 240 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813939087 · $35.00 · Jul 2017
BUY Ebook · 240 pp. · ISBN 9780813939094 · $75.00 · Jul 2017

Clarence Glacken wrote one of the most important books on environmental issues published in the twentieth century. His magnum opus, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, first published in 1967, details the ways in which perceptions of the natural environment have profoundly influenced human enterprise over the centuries while, conversely, permitting humans to radically alter the Earth. Although Glacken did not publish a comparable book before his death in 1989, he did write a follow-up collection of essays—lost works now compiled at last in Genealogies of Environmentalism.

This new volume comprises all of Glacken's unpublished writings to follow Traces and covers a broad temporal and geographic canvas, spanning the globe from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Each essay offers a brief intellectual biography of an important environmental thinker and addresses questions such as how many people the Earth can hold, what resources can sustain such populations, and where land for growth is located. This collection—carefully edited and annotated, and organized chronologically—will prove both a classic text and a springboard for further discussions on the history of environmental thought.


This compilation of Clarence Glacken’s ‘lost works’ is an invaluable gift. It is a brilliant treatment of some of the most important environmental thinkers of the last two centuries, and Glacken provides new and fresh insights even into thinkers such as Darwin, about whom so much has been written. This important work holds appeal not only for geographers, historians, and ecologists but also for anyone interested in the environment, science, and intellectual history.

Diana K. Davis, University of California, Davis, author of The Arid Lands: History, Power, Knowledge

[S]ensitively edited by S. Ravi Rajan. The core of the collection allows us to see how Glacken interprets the environmental ideas of such canonical figures as Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Alexander von Humboldt and George Perkins Marsh. His essays still amount to powerful, pithy analyses of their subjects today. Those in search of sharp, well-informed pen portraits that, when taken together, amount to the limning of a portrait of 19th-century environmental thought need look no further.

Times Higher Eduction

Ravi Rajan has done geography a great service with this book. Clarence Glacken is one of the great figures of the discipline and his unpublished works deserve to be put in circulation.

Journal of Historical Geography

[A] carefully recovered and edited version of one of Glacken’s lost manuscripts... Genealogies of Environmentalism presents an opportunity to engage not only with how Glacken assembled the history of environmental thought, but also with his appraisal of theories at work linking people and planet.

Environmental Values

In a time when the shrill voices of bare ideology too often drown out the value of what Rajan describes as modestwitnessing, reading these "further Traces" from the long-still pen of Clarence Glacken is an edifying andenlightening experience.

AAG Review of Books

Glacken's Traces on the Rhodian Shore...provided a carefully researched genealogy of important environmental ideas from ancient times to the end of the eighteenth century. His sequel...was intended to extend this genealogical analysis into the nienteenth and twentieth centuries. Unforunately, [it] was never published, and it is widely believed that the manuscript was destroyed. Now through the determined effort of S. Ravi Rajan, we have access to some of the genealogical analysis of that lost work... Genealogies of Environmentalism...consists of six essays that follow the subsequent development of some of the important environmental ideas that had been discussed in Traces....While the negative impacts of anthropogenic climate change are becoming increasingly clearer, we are currently saddled with a federal government led by men who are going to extremes to erase the findings of environmental science...Resisting such blatant environmental irresponsibility involves all hands on deck, and the re-emergence of Glacken's long-silent voice is certainly a welcome addition to the crew.

Max Hallman · Human Ecology

About the Author(s): 

S. Ravi Rajan, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is the author of Modernizing Nature: Forestry and Imperial Eco-Development, 1800-1950. Adam Romero is Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell. Michael Watts, Professor of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Curse of the Black Gold: Fifty Years of Oil in the Niger Delta.

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