Of Men and Mountains

“Mountains,” said United States Supreme Court Justice William Douglas, “have a decent influence on men.”

I would have to agree. Mr. Douglas spent more time on the US Supreme Court than any other Justice, and and in his autobiography “Of Men and Mountains”, he shares a lifetime of stories and anecdotes that probably put him in the lead for the Justice with the most amount of time outside as well. His ties to the Cascades are what initially piqued my interest, but he’s actually quite a character worth spending some time reading about. Consistently liberal, he became known on the court for his fervent support of civil rights and liberties, particularly the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

I am particularly impressed however, with his commitment to the environment and outdoor conservation, in an era when it wasn’t yet at the forefront of the public consciousness. His prescience in making the environment an important part of the issues of the day helped preserve access to wilderness areas that otherwise might have been lost. Regardless of his politics, his eloquence in writing about the relationship between men and mountains is enough for me to keep him on my bookshelf.

See also: Time Magazine’s 1950 review of the book…

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