Alaska Days with John Muir by Samual Hall Young: Book Review

John Muir fan?  I certainly am.  Thanks to Kindle (www.amazon.com), thrift stores and Librivox (www.librivox.org) I own nearly everything he’s ever written. His passion for wilderness…for the Creator revealed in His breath-taking creation throws fuel on an already raging fire in my heart for all things wild. I ache to have at my leisure weeks, months even, alone in the woods. I long to be able, like Muir,  to call things: flora, fauna geographic formations…all things, by their true name. When I read Muir I want to cast off restraints, “throw off the bowlines” as Twain put it and as Winton Porter adapted it,

“throw on my pack, dust off my boots and walk away from my everyday. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Each time I pick up one of Muirs writings I wish I’d met him. (Or course, there’s that little issue of us being separated by several generations) I wonder what it would’ve been like to have known him as friend; to have filled our pockets with hardtack and gotten ourselves lost rambling through forests, climbing mountains and sleeping beneath the stars… to share the wonder of reveling in this amazing world our God has created.  Samual Hall Young was that friend. It is grippingly clear the impact Muir’s friendship and shared adventure had on this young missionary…even on his writing style. His written voice is so similar to that of Muirs that I can effortlessly imagine a conversation between the two. Mr. Young entered the Alaskan wilderness in the hopes of bringing the “white-man’s religion” to the “savages” but I think both the savages and the wilderness, along with Muir himself had a profound impact on him. 

This wonderful little book belongs in the library of every Muir fan, every lover of wilderness if only for the insights into Muir’s beautiful, eccentric personality such as this one:

“Muir at once went wild when we reached this fairyland.  From cluster to cluster of flowers he ran, falling on his knees, babbling in unknown tongues, prattling a curious mixture of scientific lingo and baby talk, worshiping his little blue-and-pink goddesses.  “Ah! My blue-eyed darlin’, little did I think to see you here.  How did you stray away from Shasta?”  “Well, well!  Who’d ‘a’ thought you’d have left that niche in the Merced mountains to come here!”  ‘And who might you be now, with your wonder look?  Is it possible that you can be (two Latin polysyllables)?  You’re lost, my dear; you belong in Tennesee.”

Did you know that Mr. Young has the honor, also, of being the owner of the infamous “Stickeen” the cantankerous little mutt that accompanied the two on their excursions into the Alaskan wilderness and the subject of Muir’s own classic by the same name?  If you enjoyed that little book, you’ll truly appreciate seeing this pup and his relationship with Muir from Mr. Young’s perspective.

I’ve rambled on enough about this book . I own it on Kindle but plan to search for a hardback copy for my shelf.

The Gist?  Buy it.  Read it.  You’ll love it.

Here’s a link to the free kindle version through Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Alaska-Days-John-Muir-ebook/dp/B004TS9LOU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341418426&sr=1-1&keywords=Alaska+Days+with+John+Muir

If you plan to purchase one of the other copies via Amazon, would you consider doing so via the Amazon link at All Who Wander?  We’d certainly appreciate it.  A portion of the cost will go towards keeping All Who Wander going.  Thanks!

 

 

 

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