The Man Who Built the Sierra Club
David Brower (1912;2000) was a central figure in the modern environmental movement. His leadership, vision, and elegant conception of the wilderness forever changed how we approach nature. In many ways he was a twentieth-century Thoreau. Brower transformed the Sierra Club into a national force that challenged and stopped federally sponsored projects that would have dammed the Grand Canyon and destroyed hundreds of millions of acres of our nation's wilderness. To admirers, he was tireless, passionate, visionary, and unyielding. To opponents and even some supporters, he was contentious and polarizing.
As a young man growing up in Berkeley, California, Brower proved himself a fearless climber of the Sierra Nevada's dangerous peaks. After serving in the U.S. Army's famed World War II Mountain Division, he joined the Sierra Club and quickly became its executive director. For nearly two decades, Brower led successful efforts to save crucial rivers in the West and millions of acres of wilderness, but in order to block two dams at the Dinosaur National Monument, he compromised on the building of Utah's Glen Canyon Dam a loss of wilderness that haunted him until his death.
This uncompromising biography explores every facet of Brower's time as leader of the Sierra Club and steward of the modern environmental movement. His style inspired many but bordered on reckless. His passionate advocacy destroyed lifelong friendships and at times threatened his goals. Married for fifty-six years, Brower jeopardized everything to engage in affairs with other men. Yet his achievements remain some of the most important triumphs of the conservation movement. What emerges from this unique portrait is a rich and robust profile of a leader who took up the work of John Muir and, along with Rachel Carson, made environmentalism the cause of our time.