A Journey through Teddy Roosevelt's American Wilderness

Speaker Date: April 2, 2021

Gessner’s new book, LEAVE IT AS IT IS: A Journey through Theodore Roosevelt’s  American Wilderness is many things.

It’s a biography of Theodore Roosevelt and his relationship to nature—the real Roosevelt, one filled with grief, depression, and a supernatural work ethic, not a mustachioed caricature charging up San Juan Hill.

It’s a travelogue winding its way through America’s national parks and wild places, an ode to the restorative power of nature, lyrically conveying the simple importance of watching elk in a field, or a lightning storm roll in. But most importantly, it is a call to action.

In this age of political illiberalism and environmental degradation, LEAVE IT AS IT IS is a devastating look at what we have to lose and what is worth fighting for.

Through Roosevelt, his own gleeful wonderment at nature, and the heart-rending contemporary saga of the fight for Bears Ears National Monument, we see our own world: how beautiful it can be, yet also how much damage we have inflicted upon it; how precarious its future is, and how many in power couldn’t care less. 

Larry Marple, a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator, will join David Gessner for the presentation.

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Dave Gessner, Chair of Creative Writing, UNC

David Gessner is the author of eleven books that blend a love of nature, humor, memoir, and environmentalism, including Leave It As It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness and the New York Times-bestselling All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West. Gessner currently serves as Chair of the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine, Ecotone. His prizes include a Pushcart Prize, the John Burroughs Award for Best Nature Essay, the Association for Study of Literature and the Environment’s award for best book of creative writing, and the Reed Award for Best Book on the Southern Environment. In 2017 he hosted the National Geographic Explorer show, “The Call of the Wild.”  He is married to the novelist Nina de Gramont.