Journeys Through Paradise:
Pioneering Naturalists in the Southeast

Gail Fishman


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"This book is for those inhabited by the same desires that drove the early naturalists afield, who yearn to know wilder territory. We read it voraciously, as if in the understanding of how they loved we might also begin to do so, as if in the reliving of their lives we might recapture some vanishing part of the human psyche that must know wilderness."-- Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

"Like the naturalists she profiles, Gail Fishman takes us on an odyssey through a time when the extraordinary diversity of the southeastern United States was first being explored and described. . . . Entertaining."-- Steve Gatewood, executive director, Society for Ecological Restoration, Tucson

"Fishman modernizes the men and their explorations by retracing the terrain that they explored, wrote about, drew and painted. The result is an intriguing and appealing lesson in biographical and scientific history and a literary reading experience that will appeal to a wide audience."-- William W. Rogers, professor of history emeritus, Florida State University

Following the original steps of pioneering naturalists, Gail Fishman profiles thirteen men who explored North America’s southeastern wilderness between 1715 and the 1940s, including John James Audubon, Mark Catesby, John and William Bartram, John Muir, and Alvan Wentworth Chapman. The book is also Fishman’s personal travelogue as she experiences the landscape through their eyes and describes the changes that have occurred along the region’s trails and streams.

Traveling by horseback, boat, and foot, these naturalists--dedicated to their task and blessed with passion and insatiable curiosity--explored gentle mountains, regal forests, and shadowy swamps. Their interests ran deeper than merely cataloging plants and animals. They identified the continent’s foundations and the habits and histories of the flora and fauna of the landscape. Fishman tells us who they were and what compelled them to pursue their work. She evaluates what they accomplished and measures their importance, also pointing out their strengths and failings. And she paints an engaging picture of what America was like at the time.

Fishman combines natural history and American history into a series of portraits that recapture the American Southeast as it was seen by those who first tramped through the wilderness and whose voices from the beginning urged the preservation of wild places.

Gail Fishman, a freelance writer who lives in Tallahassee, has worked for the Florida Defenders of the Environment, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Audubon Society. She is a volunteer for the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and helped form the St. Marks Refuge Association.
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An entertaining read, and would certainly be an excellent book to take along during visits to the south-eastern United States. Ibis

Takes us on an odyssey to the days when the natural landscape of the Southeastern United States bloomed with abundant diversity, when early naturalists first described the forests and rivers. Florida Democrat

Enjoy a glimpse into the lives of these early adventurers who explored our area, travel with Fishman as she describes the changes that have taken place through the years, and experience some delightful reading during the upcoming days and nights of our cooler winter. Florida Gardener

This volume will appeal to a wide audience of naturalists, conservationists, and others who are interested in preserving what remains of the American wilderness. Journal of Southern History

Fishman's biographies of these natural scientists blend American and natural history in an enjoyable style, mingling descriptions of her own travels through much of the same territory explored by the naturalists and her observations of the environmental changes caused by civilization. While Journeys will not serve as a single source of information about the lives and work of these naturalists, it will introduce interested readers to the challenges of their fieldwork and their contribution to the knowledge of natural science in this country. Choice

The author weaves for us a book that is as much about history as about natural history through the profiles of 13 naturalists who endured great hardships as they explored the region over a 200 year span. It will especially appeal to those of us who yearn for the time when such exploration was occurring and who still seek small personal discoveries every time we encounter nature. Wildlife Activist

This is the book to get if you are looking for an introduction to the natural history of our region and the people who have explored it, and are also interested in how it has changed over the centuries. Florida Times-Union

A fascinating glimpse into the life history and personal motivations of these scientists-artists-explorers. Orlando Sentinel

Fishman, in a single volume, successfully brings to life the trials and tribulations of thirteen American naturalists, retracing their steps through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and to a lesser degree the interior backcountry. An engaging history of America's most important pioneering naturalists, a notable environmental history of the coastal southeast, and throughout, a very good read. Georgia Historical Quarterly

This is the book to get if you are looking for an introduction to the natural history of our region and the people who have explored it. Georgia Times Union

Fishman's work reminds us to pay attention not only to our current landscapes, but also to the historical and geographical contexts that have shaped them. ISLE

Profiles thirteen curious men who explored North America's southesatern wilderness between 1715 and the 1940s and is also a personal travelogue as she experienced the landscape through their eyes. Indiantown News

Regales laics with vividly wrought versions of the lives and times of former botanists and ornithologists, fleshing out all their talents and human foibles in great detail, with accentuated tones of both admiration and empathy. . . . Fishman leads a kaleidoscopic tour of formerly wild places in the southeastern United States. Quarterly Review of Biology

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