Visiting National Parks is one of the things I remember most as a child. From an early age I loved being surrounded by nature. As an adult, I have now worked in three National Parks, and enjoy long days spent out in the wilderness. The first park I worked at was Yellowstone National Park. It was here that I learned about Theodore Roosevelt and his contribution to the National Park system and wilderness conservation. I kept planning to read a book about him since there were so many that documented his excursions, but kept getting sidetracked into other endeavors. Finally, after having a desire to read about Theodore Roosevelt on my radar for so long, The Naturalist appeared on my horizon and I was hooked.
Darrin Lunde works at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and has extensive experience in his field of study. Throughout The Naturalist, Lunde documents the life of Theodore Roosevelt, almost exclusively as it relates to Roosevelt’s developing fascination with the wilderness, preservation, ornithology, and eventually large mammals. One of Roosevelt’s catalytic moments was seeing a baby seal carcass in a shop window at eight years old. From that point on, Lunde shows the development of an obsession which continued into adulthood. Lunde includes snippets from Roosevelt’s journals that document his trips with descriptions of animals he saw. There is also a somewhat exhaustive amount of words given to describing the skinning of many of the animals.
While there were many aspects of Theodore Roosevelt’s life I enjoyed learning about, especially in the early developmental stages, it at times became a bit tedious. There are only so many times you care to read an account of the process of skinning animals. Despite this, the book provides some insight into the view of nature, conservation, and the development of preserving specimens for scientific study during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Many people might know that Roosevelt had something to do with helping to establish National Parks and Refuges, this book flushes out that knowledge and then some.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.