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Harriman Expedition Retraced

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William Cronon

Writer and Historian


William Cronon

William Cronon
William Cronon says, "I knew I wanted to be a writer before I knew anything else, really going all the way back to grade school. I migrated through many interests after that, most directed toward the goal of trying to figure out how to support myself while writing. I was also deeply interested in natural history and environmental science, probably because I'm the child of a historian. I tend to ask questions that take the form, how did things get to be this way?"

These two interests, writing and history, converged for William Cronon in college, as he studied western and environmental history, and then wrote about them. He now teaches history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin. His books, Changes in the Land, Nature's Metropolis, Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America's Western Past, and Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, are classic works about American history and the environment. His current research involves the ways human communities change the landscapes in which they live, and how people are, in turn, affected by changing geological, climatological, epidemiological, and ecological conditions.

His favorite books include Tolstoy's War and Peace, Graham Swift's Waterland, John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman, Edmund S. Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom, W. G. Hoskins' Making of the English Landscape. " I suppose if I had to pick just one book," he says, "it would probably be Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac, which is a beautiful blend of history and nature."

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For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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