43 minutes | Sep 21st 2020

Versus History #102 - David Gessner & 'LEAVE IT AS IT IS'.


In this episode, we interview Historian David Gessner (@DavidGessner), the author of the new book ‘LEAVE IT AS IT IS: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness’, published by Simon & Schuster. David is the author of eleven books that blend a love of nature, humor, memoir, and environmentalism, including the New York Times-bestselling 'All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West' and the prize-winning 'The Tarball Chronicles'. In 2003 Gessner taught Environmental Writing as a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard, and he now serves as Chair of the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine, Ecotone. His own prizes include a Pushcart Prize, the John Burroughs Award for Best Nature Essay, the Association for Study of Literature and the Environment’s award for best book of creative writing, and the Reed Award for Best Book on the Southern Environment. In 2017 he hosted the National Geographic Explorer show, "The Call of the Wild." Gessner lives in Wilmington, North Carolina with his wife, the novelist Nina de Gramont, and their daughter Hadley. The book ‘LEAVE IT AS IT IS’ is many things. It’s a biography of Theodore Roosevelt and his relationship to nature—the real Roosevelt, one filled with grief, depression, and a supernatural work ethic, not a mustachioed caricature charging up San Juan Hill. It’s a travelogue winding its way through America’s national parks and wild places, an ode to the restorative power of nature, lyrically conveying the simple importance of watching elk in a field, or a lightning storm roll in. But most importantly, it is a call to action. In this age of political illiberalism and environmental degradation, LEAVE IT AS IT IS is a devastating look at what we have to lose and what is worth fighting for. Through Roosevelt, his own gleeful wonderment at nature, and the heart-rending contemporary saga of the fight for Bears Ears National Monument, we see our own world: how beautiful it can be, yet also how much damage we have inflicted upon it; how precarious its future is, and how many in power couldn’t care less. This book is simultaneously a page-turning work of history you want to finish in one sitting, and one that makes you want to put it—and everything else—down and head out to experience the solace of nature. For terms of use, please visit www.versushistory.com