The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State by David Stradling

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Joshua Britton


Scholars knowledgeable in the literature of environmental history will find much of The Nature of New York conventional. David Stradling surveys the entire scope of New York State's history and illuminates the role the natural environment played in the state's political, social, and cultural history, from the time of the first Dutch settlement up to the present. In a work that is arranged topically but told in a roughly chronological fashion, Stradling effectively demonstrates the ways in which New York epitomized different approaches to the environment, from the importance of the market and the profit motive in "taming" the land, to the role that New Yorkers played in fostering cultural appreciation for nature and the sublime through the novels of James Fenimore Cooper and the paintings of the Hudson River School, to the influence of New York in conservation and environmental politics during the twentieth century. Although Stradling draws upon primary sources most scholars will recognize, his command and synthesis of the growing secondary literature is impressive and adds much to his study. Moreover, he writes in an engaging and lively style that makes this work accessible to the popular as well as the academic reader.

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