The Wild East
A Biography of the Great Smoky Mountains, Revised Edition

Margaret Lynn Brown


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Available for pre-order. This book will be available October, 2024
 

The classic environmental history of the Great Smoky Mountains, updated with a view from the twenty-first century
 
“Debunks the cherished myth of the Smokies as a pristine wilderness snatched from the brink of destruction to preserve the heritage of the Wild East. Instead, Brown details how the various, often contradictory approaches to managing the park since the 1930s reflect competing notions of how Americans ought to relate to nature.”—Blue Ridge Outdoors  
 
“Brown brings her story to life with pertinent and insightful oral histories gleaned from the park archives and conducted by the author herself. Recommended to those interested in environmental history, national parks, and all of those who love the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and care about its future.”—Georgia Historical Quarterly  
 
The Wild East is a graceful, accurate, and, in its subdued way, a passionate account. . . . Margaret Lynn Brown has a deft touch.”—Fred Chappell, author of Look Back All the Green Valley  
 
The Wild East explores the social, political, and environmental changes in the Great Smoky Mountains during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although this national park is most often portrayed as a triumph of wilderness preservation, Margaret Lynn Brown concludes that the largest forested region in the eastern United States is actually a re-created wilderness—a product of restoration and even manipulation of the land.
 
Several hundred years before white settlement, Cherokees farmed and hunted this land. Between 1910 and 1920, corporate lumbermen built railroads into the region’s most remote watersheds and removed more than 60 percent of the old-growth forest. Despite this level of human impact, those who promoted the establishment of a national park in 1934 represented the land as an untouched wilderness and described the people living there as pioneers.
 
Toward the end of the twentieth century, Brown writes, the Smokies faced the consequences of decades of management decisions that fluctuated between promoting human tourism and ensuring environmental preservation. Nearly 25 years after the book’s first publication, this revised edition discusses current research, citizen science initiatives, and land management practices that are restoring native plants and wildlife populations in the twenty-first century. Margaret Lynn Brown emphasizes the extraordinary treasure that is the Great Smoky Mountains and the importance of continuing to invest in the park’s protection for years to come.  
 
Margaret Lynn Brown is professor of history emeritus at Brevard College in North Carolina. She is also an essayist and reviewer.

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