John Muir

Overall Rating: 8
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Author: John Muir
Title: A Thousand-mile Walk To The Gulf
Time: 1867-1868
Destination: USA, Cuba
Length: roughly a year
Type: mostly walking, some by ship
Rating: 8/10

Lover of plants

The story: It is the year 1867, and the American Civil War has only been over for about two years, when young botanist JM decides to take a walk from his home in Indiana to Florida. He apparently wants to find out more about certain Southern species of plants. So he walks to Florida, where he gets really sick. Once his health is back to normal again, he takes a ship to Cuba, then to New York and to California after that.

John Muir’s short journal

The resulting book feels pretty much like an unedited journal: It is very short (212 pages in a ridiculously spacious font), the language is kind of laconic, and we get quite a bit of scientific information about JM’s main topic of interest: plants. (Another thing that can be a bit irritating is the way he writes about African Americans.)

love for nature

Nevertheless, I thought this was a great read. JM is not only a keen observer, but he has the greatest love for nature that you can possibly imagine.

“Man and other civilized animals are the only creatures that ever become dirty.”

These are his words, and it feels like he was way ahead of his time. But JM isn’t just a scientist and an eco-warrior. He is also a young, restless wanderer who feels exposed to loneliness and despair sometimes: “All had a home but I,” he cries out, and I feel right there with him. Thank you, JM!


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