John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire

How A Visionary And The Glaciers Of Alaska Changed America


Book Description

A dual biography of two of the most compelling elements in the narrative of wild America, John Muir and Alaska.

John Muir was a fascinating man who was many things: inventor, scientist, revolutionary, druid (a modern day Celtic priest), husband, son, father and friend, and a shining son of the Scottish Enlightenment -- both in temperament and intellect.  Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak, bring us a story that evolves as Muir’s life did, from one of outdoor adventure into one of ecological guardianship---Muir went from impassioned author to leading activist. The book is not just an engaging and dramatic profile of Muir, but an expose on glaciers, and their importance in the world today. Muir shows us how one person changed America, helped it embrace its wilderness, and in turn, gave us a better world.

December 2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of Muir’s death. Muir died of a broken heart, some say, when Congress voted to approve the building of Hetch Hetchy Dam in Yosemite National Park. Perhaps in the greatest piece of environmental symbolism in the U.S. in a long time, on the California ballot this November is a measure to dismantle the Hetch Hetchy Dam.

Muir’s legacy is that he reordered our priorities and contributed to a new scientific revolution that was picked up a generation later by Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, and is championed today by influential writers like E.O. Wilson and Jared Diamond. Heacox will take us into how Muir changed our world, advanced the science of glaciology and popularized geology. How he got people out there. How he gave America a new vision of Alaska, and of itself.

About Heacox, Kim

Kim Heacox has written eight books, four for National Geographic, five on biography and conservation. Heacox’s latest book, The Only Kayak (Lyons, 2005), was a PEN USA Literary Award finalist in creative non-fiction and is now in its sixth printing. He has twice won the Lowell Thomas Award for excellence in travel writing.

A former ranger with the U.S. National Park Service, Kim lives in the little town of Gustavus (pop. 400, reachable only by boat or plane), next to Glacier Bay, where he and his wife, Melanie, are building the Glacier Bay Institute. In 1998, Kim was a writer-in-residence at the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, (where he wrote a book on the Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton); in 2012 he was a writer-in-residence at Denali National Park, in Interior Alaska.

His writing credits include Orion, Audubon, Wilderness, Sierra, National Geographic, GEO and other magazines, plus the literary journals Connotations, Tidal Echoes, and Camas, and op-eds in The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, and The Anchorage Daily News.  

Heacox also works as an inspirational speaker and has spoken to tens of thousands of people (over the past 20 years) for National Geographic, Smithsonian, the National Outdoor Leadership School, U.S. National Park Service, Alaska Conservation Foundation, Lindblad Expeditions, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, and many schools and universities.