Paper pub. date
April 2013
ISBN 9780870717109 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 272 pages. B&W photographs. Bibliography. Notes. Index.

Escaping Into Nature

The Making of a Sportsman-Conservationist and Environmental Historian

John F. Reiger

Escaping into Nature is the story of an angler and hunter who found a cause and a calling and combined them for his life’s work. 

Wildlife conservationist and environmental historian John Reiger's outdoor adventures as a young man primed him for the teachings of the great sportsmen-conservationists of the past, particularly George Bird Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt, and Aldo Leopold. Inspired by these conservation giants, Reiger left the security of a tenured professorship to serve as executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society where he, sometimes controversially, put his ideals into practice. Later, he resumed his academic career to illuminate the lives of early wildlife conservationists, visionaries who continue to inspire us to care deeply about the future of the natural world.

Abused psychologically within his family in his early years, Reiger found solace in nature. Though he first entered the outdoors as an escape from his unpleasant circumstances, he soon found the study and pursuit of insects, fishes, and birds to be exciting ends in themselves. He came to believe that it was only by participating in the life and death of other creatures that one could learn to truly value the natural world, be a part of it, and be inspired to work for its conservation.

John Reiger’s autobiography is also the story of his own developing fascination with America’s past, especially as it relates to human interaction with the natural world; his desire to share that passion with others; and his experiences on the road to becoming a nationally recognized scholar. The twists and turns of that journey, and his accounts of the people—and of the wild creatures—who helped him along the way, will appeal to history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

About the author

John F. Reiger is Professor Emeritus of History at Ohio University-Chillicothe and the former Executive Director of the Connecticut Audubon Society. His other books include The Passing of the Great West: Selected Papers of George Bird Grinnell and "Gifford Pinchot with Rod and Reel"/"Trading Places: From Historian to Environmental Activist"—Two Essays in Conservation History.

Read more about this author

"Accounts of being pulled into the water by a spotted eagle stingray, working alongside migrant labors in the Pacific Northwest, capsizing and being saved just before dark while hunting in Florida marshes, and turning to drug smugglers to tow him to safety after running into a squall off of Florida's coast, among other "close calls," makes Escaping into Nature an easy way to escape into a good book. [T]his book is recommended to fellow "sportspeople" and outdoor enthusiasts who will find Reiger's stories enjoyable and relatable. This book is also of interest to those curious about the history of the historian and his work. Such personal narratives of historians are a welcome contribution, for they give critical scholars a clearer picture of how historical narratives have been discovered and constructed." -- Adam Berg, Journal of Sport History

Sign Up for Our Newsletter