Opposites attract

I just finished reading Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee. Enjoyed it more that I thought I would. The premise isn’t all that exciting, like most McPhee books (his compendium about the geological history of North America won the Pulitzer prize!), but it was hard to put down. The portraits of the main characters and the portraits of the wilderness locations were superb and endlessly interesting.

Encounters with the Archdruid tells the story of David Brower, a giant figure in the environmental conservation movement in the last century, and three trips he takes to different wilderness areas in the US with the the author and three of his bitterest rivals: a miner, a developer, and a dam builder. The book is divided into three sections, one of each of the trips they take, and weaves between background stories about each of the four figures and the locations and experiences they have along the way.

Here are some of my favorite passages from the book.