Brenau University Symposium Features Muir Biographer James Hunt

Mar 20, 2013
Brenau Staff
The cover of Restless Fires by James Hunt
The cover of Restless Fires by James Hunt

Just eight miles north of San Francisco, a forest of giant redwoods stands protected as a perpetual monument to the life’s work of 19th century conservationist John Muir. On Wednesday, March 27 at 5 p.m. in Thurmond McRae Auditorium Brenau University hosts a presentation – free and open to the public – by Muir biographer James Hunt as part of the ongoing Sense and Sustainability lecture series.

Although Muir was best-known for his work in the West in what is now Muir Woods National Monument and Yosemite National Park, author Hunt’s new book, Restless Fires, chronicles Muir’s 1867-68 1,000-mile trek from Louisville, Ken., to Cedar Key, Fla., on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

“John Muir one of the most important naturalists and documentary writers of in American history,” said Dr. Rudi Kiefer, the Brenau professor who hosts the lecture series. “Hunt does a remarkable job in his book of illustrating Muir’s thoughts and adventures during that famous walk to the gulf coast. The book will keep readers spellbound with its blend of philosophical reflection by Muir, his periods of exhaustion and exhilaration, hunger, illness, and ultimately, his sense of victory.”

Ronald C. White Jr., author of A. Lincoln: A Biography, also praised Hunt’s book, stating that “readers will walk with John Muir through the post-Civil War South as the wandering young botanist discovers his vocation as America’s great environmental pioneer.”

Hunt’s own background is equally compelling. Now a professor emeritus at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., his professional activities have included teaching American, Latin American and world history, directing travel experiences for students spending five months in Central America, and managing Whitworth University’s study/service program.

James Hunt
James Hunt

His book goes far beyond mere discussion of Muir’s accomplishments related to his 1,000-mile walk. He observes that while Muir offered meaningful insights into natural systems and the distribution of species, his work wasn’t comprehensive in every aspect. Many of the ills that plagued contemporary society, such as racism, didn’t attract his attention. The particular value of Hunt’s book, many critics agree, is that it brings an activity that is now far in the past into the limelight of the present, revealing its continuing significance to current society, and its meaning for anybody who is concerned about the preservation of natural resources.

The lecture program will also include recognition of the late John Jacobs Jr., a media pioneer and long-time Brenau trustee. John Jacobs IV, grandson of the Gainesville and Hall County businessman, will accept the recognition on behalf of the Jacobs family.

For more information, contact Brenau University Director of Sustainability, Dr. Rudi Kiefer,