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September 23 , 2007

Beautiful Land of the Sky

John Muir’s Forgotten Eastern Counterpart, Harlan P. Kelsey


John Muir is considered to be the supreme icon of western wilderness and preservation. His counterpart in the east is Harlan P. Kelsey, an often obscure and forgotten figure. In Beautiful Land of the Sky, author Loren M. Wood chronicles Kelsey’s journey from the humblest of beginnings to national prominence in horticulture and the establishment of national parks in the eastern United States. In this biography, Wood tells how, a century ago, Kelsey was the first to pioneer native plants for the American landscape and a leader in that process; how he was a leading participant in bringing all of America to our native plants in their finest original setting; and how he helped make a reality of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a zenith of horticultural biomass and diversity in America. In addition, this biography explores the parallels in the odysseys of Muir and Kelsey. Though primarily a biography of Kelsey, Wood compares the similarities, differences, and accomplishments of the two men. Including details gathered from more than fifty thousand items in Kelsey’s personal files, Beautiful Land of the Sky narrates the inspiring and entertaining story of how the idea of national parks was implemented east of the Mississippi.
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