In the Thick of It
6 x 9
6 x 9
In an age when many of the major environmental policies established over the past four decades are under siege, Michael McCloskey reminds us of better days. . .days when conservation initiatives were seen not as political lightning rods, but as opportunities to cope with disturbing threats to the quality of our environment.
In 1961, a young let's-get-it-done McCloskey was hired as the Sierra Club's first field representative for the Northwest. From there, for nearly forty years, he rose to guide the oldest and most powerful environmental organization in the world. He helped to pave the way for the original Wilderness Act in 1964, and as the club's conservation director worked to see it implemented. He successfully lobbied for the creation of new national parks and wilderness areas, the North Cascades and Redwood National Park among them. As executive director, he was present at the creation of Earthday in 1970, directed lobbying for the enactment of over one hundred environmental laws, and watched Sierra Club membership rise from about 70,000 to more than 500,000. In the nineties, he led the Sierra Club in mounting fights against attempts to undercut EPA regulations and against trade agreements that curtailed environmental programs.
His tenure was no walk in the park or smooth glide across a placid mountain lake. The large and very public Sierra Club was fraught with brush fires, seismic tremors, and pitched battles, both within and without. He survived the ouster of his mentor, the charismatic but controversial David Brower, succeeding him as the second executive director in the club's history, and put the Sierra Club back on firm financial footing. Under less than ideal political circumstances, McCloskey helped to keep the environmental agenda moving steadily forward, even in the face of Ronald Reagan's virulently pro-development Interior Secretary James Watt (whom he was instrumental in expelling from office).
In the Thick of It describes not only McCloskey's life as an environmental activist; it reveals the inner workings and politics of one of the nation's most influential environmental nonprofit organizations during an era of ground-breaking environmental legislation. In addition to sharing the details of battles exhilaratingly won and disappointingly lost on the environmental front, he demonstrates how it is indeed possible to turn idealism and hope into practical action that can make an impact at the national level. With this book McCloskey offers not only invaluable insight into the past, but also inspiration to carry into the future.
"For many years I worked with Mike McCloskey and observed his admirable contributions to the advancement of the environmental movement. In the Thick of It will serve as a good reference for environmental historians."
Russell Peterson, former Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality
"This is a readable, highly informative inside account of the rise of the environmental movement and most of its key battles in the second half of the 20th century. Michael McCloskey not only was 'in the thick of it,' his wisdom and strong leadership put him way out front."
Philip Shabecoff, former chief environmental correspondent at "The New York Times", author of "Earth Rising"
"Mike McCloskey launched me in my career when he persuaded me to come work for the Sierra Club part-time, and 'just for one year.' I never planned to stay, but his quiet leadership kept me at the Club until, eventually, I had the honor of succeeding him. He is the true architect of the modern Sierra Club and in many ways of the modern environmental advocacy movement, and In the Thick of It tells the story—a story I thought I knew, but of which the hidden twists and turns only became clear from Mike's book."
Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club
"Mike McCloskey may have done more to shape environmental policies in the last half century than any other individual. His memoir is not only an absorbing personal history, it traces the growth of the leading activist environmental organization and, to a large extent, the history of the entire movement in the United States."
Anne H. Ehrlich, Stanford University and coauthor of "One with Nineveh"
"For nearly fifty years, Michael McCloskey has been the wisest, most astute analyst of environmental policy in the Sierra Club…. In the Thick of It provides more than a personal view of one of environmentalism's steadiest thinkers and actors: it reveals the way environmentalism matured in the late twentieth century."
Michael P. Cohen, author of "The History of the Sierra Club: 1892 to 1970" and "The Pathless Way"
Chapter 1. Growing Up in Oregon
Chapter 2. Politics, College Years, and the Army
Chapter 3. Field Organizer
Chapter 4. At Headquarters in San Francisco
Chapter 5. Campaigning for a Redwood National Park
Chapter 6. The Brower Affair
Chapter 7. Taking Over as Environmentalism Takes Off
Chapter 8. More Contentious Times
Chapter 9. The Glory Years
Chapter 10. Conflict with Sister Organizations
Chapter 11. Finding Our Way Internationally
Chapter 12. A New Kind of Normalcy
Chapter 13. Relations with Other Interests
Chapter 14. The Worst of Times, the Best of Times
Chapter 15. Life Changes
Chapter 16. Wilderness Work Again
Chapter 17. Working in the Capital
Chapter 18. Trade Matters
Chapter 19. Continuing International Work
Chapter 20. The Bittersweet Years
Chapter 21. Sierra Club Chairman: The Final Years