"As Mr. Udall's vivid narrative makes clear, the race between education and erosion, between wisdom and waste, has not run its course. . . . The nation's battle to preserve the common estate is far from won."—President John F. Kennedy, from the introduction
"Stewart Udall left an indelible mark on this nation and inspired countless Americans who will continue his fight for clean air, clean water, and to maintain our many natural treasures."—President Barack Obama
In his best-selling 1963 book, The Quiet Crisis, Stewart Udall warned of the dangers of pollution and threats to America's natural resources, calling for a nationwide "land conscience" to conserve the nation's wild places. Along with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, The Quiet Crisis is credited with triggering the modern environmental movement in America.
It is history which Secretary of the Interior Udall is recounting here, but with an eye towards the future. His subject is our natural environment, how we have used and abused it, and what must be done to keep America ""a green and pleasant--and productive--land"". His story begins with the ways in which the Indians, and later the first white settlers, related to the land and its wealth. Next he tells how that wealth was quickly dissipated, and then how the early conservationists, Thoreau, George Perkins Marsh, and John Muri, strove to awaken the public to what was taking place. The later chapters discuss the political approaches to the problems, as seen in the activities of such men as Carl Schurz and the Roosevelts, and the work of city planners from Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of New York City's Central Park, to Lewis Mumford. Cities, the author tells us, ""are a focal point of the quiet crisis in conservation"". The conclusion to the volume consists of a brief but eloquent plea for a ""Land Ethic for Tomorrow"". Only two forces--an enlightened public and strong legislation-- can curb such wasteful and harmful practices as strip mining and water pollution. Mr. Udall has done much here to the set at least that first force in motion. A big name in the biggest position concerned with conservation-- a movement small in numbers but growing in strength. Introduction by President Kennedy.--Kirkus Reviews