• The Hour of Land

  • A Personal Topography of America's National Parks
  • By: Terry Tempest Williams
  • Narrated by: Terry Williams
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (287 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For years, America's national parks have provided public breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why close to 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now, to honor the centennial of the National Park Service, Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the beloved memoir When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, what they mean to us, and what we mean to them.

Through 12 carefully chosen parks, from Yellowstone in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas, Tempest Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America. Our national parks stand at the intersection of humanity and wildness, and there's no one better than Tempest Williams to guide us there.

©2016 Terry Tempest Williams (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[T]his is a uniquely evocative, illuminating, profound, poignant, beautiful, courageous, and clarion book about the true significance of our national parks." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about The Hour of Land

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

It could have been good.

I started listening to this book with great expectations - what's not to like about our National Parks? - but soon found myself bogged down by Williams' dreary recital of the usual dog's breakfast of leftist ideas and causes. Perhaps one has to expect it these days as every progressive attempts to out-virtue signal her comrades, but this book was supposed to be about the national parks, not feminismdiversityimmigrantindigenouslgbtglobalwarmingism.

What I also didn't anticipate was the author's truly stunning lack of a sense of irony. In her chapter about the Gulf Coast, Mississippi Delta, and the aftermath of the BP oil spill, we find our intrepid Terry flying as a passenger in some environmentalist's Cessna 182, an expensive private airplane that burns 12 gallons of evil fossil fuel per hour, during a 4 1/2 hour flight to gawk at the oil spill. Any idea why BP was out there drilling for that oil, Terry? Clue: so your friend can replenish the more than 50 gallons of gas he burned while you tut-tutted BP's wickedness. It reminds me of a john complaining about a prostitute's morals.

In other chapters, Terry and her extended family blissfully jetset from Utah to Maine, Utah to North Dakota, Utah to Montana, Utah to Wyoming, and beyond, feeding all the while on that BP oil spill. Montana is home, of course, to Glacier National Park, which was stolen from indigenous peoples, an act which Terry assures us is bad, while Wyoming is home to Grand Teton National Park, part of which was stolen from white people by the oil-fueled Rockefeller dynasty, which Terry assures us is good. Terry, you are making my head hurt.

But once in a while, and despite her best efforts to the contrary, a sweet, unbeguiled love of beauty and the land creeps out of the leftist caterwalling, and as a reader, I am enchanted. Too bad there isn't more. Like the precious, hidden pools of water in William's beloved red rock desert, these passages refreshed me. That is what I wanted from this book and got not nearly enough. I wanted to like "The Hour of the Land," I really did, but the bitter leftist preaching was finally just too much for me. The politics finally overwhelmed the poetry.

Maybe someday, when the sour taste of this disappointing book goes away, I'll try another Terry Tempest Williams book.

Maybe.


5 people found this helpful

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Cultural Cross Sections

This book needs to be adopted as required reading up among the ranks with Abbey, Carson, Leopold, Powell, and too many other great American authors who advocate for the necessary preservation of our cultures last stand for wholesome connectivity. A simply fantastic read.

4 people found this helpful

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Not about Nature in National Parks

I have read & enjoyed nature essays for many years & have collect 3 shelves of them. This book will not go there because it has little to do with nature. It is a political polemic about various topics. Some of the topics are important about environmental issues with which I generally agree. Environmental books are cousins to nature books. This book however is not even a book about the environment, really. It is the author’s opinion on a variety of what she lauds as progressive issues.

In short, the title indicating it is about national parks is very misleading. The parks are mere window dressing. It is structured by framing each issue in the physical context of several national parks. However, she says little about the nature there. Instead, she uses it to talk about people harmed by government or corporate misdeeds. In 2021 we are flooded with books and newscasts about those books. It would be okay for her to write such a book and give it an accurate title.

People have always read nature or pastoral essays as a respite from politics & other people. Afterwards, they feel refreshed and rested enough to again deal with people & politics. This book, despite its title, fails to do that.

2 people found this helpful

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Laborious

This work is truly an enterprise of self indulgence. Don’t get me wrong. I actually have a lot of respect for the author. I appreciated her contributions to Ken Burns documentary. I very much appreciate her politics and love for the natural beauty of the parks. But, overall the peace is hard to listen to because she apparently insisted on narrating it herself. Her voice is deep and interesting but her overall mood is so heavy and serious. It is heavy and serious in sections where perhaps it should be a little wider. It seems to me that she takes her self very seriously if not crossing the line into self righteousness. I feel pressured to care about her family and her relationship with her father as much as she does. I felt like some of the details and idiosyncrasies actually disrupted the narrative. I’m sure others Disagree with this. But, overall the work was difficult for me to get through. In fact I haven’t even finished. About three hours to go.

1 person found this helpful

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Awful

The writing is poor, the story had the possibility of being great if it was about the parks more than the authors thoughts and family comments. It is unreadable and I'm listenable
Lastly this author should not have been the reader. Her voice puts one to sleep.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lovingly Depressing

Beautifully written and read by the author, who takes us coast to coast, border to border on a national park odyssey that is both uplifting and sickly depressing. While I wished there might be a happy ending, I know that is pure fantasy. We are not leaving this world a better place than we found it. It’s all very sad.

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every reader will become an environmentalist

Tempest Willliams is so passionate about the parks that every reader will become an environmentalist,

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Great National Park Perspective, Tired on Social Justice Aecrion

Talented writer and the reading specific to the National Parks was eloquent ... last several chapters on social justice were misplaced in this book and lost me

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Amazing

Ed Abbey multiplied by infinity. Williams gives a proud voice to a nature silenced by economic growth. Our national parks are relics that could slip away as forgotten treasure if aren't paying attention. Williams helps bring our focus back to what is important.....wild spaces.

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Powerful

TTW knows how to speak softly and carry three big sticks of research, passion, and empathy. Beware, though; her soft voice and compelling narrative could activate the most latent activists for our national parks. Thank you, Ms. Tempest.