A LIFE IN NATURE: At Home and Abroad

Napier Shelton
Vellum, 2019
300 Pages, 31 photos
ISBN 978-0-9995572-7-3 Paperback

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About the Author

Napier Shelton is a former writer and editor for the National Park Service. He has a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Michigan. His published books are: Saguaro National MonumentThe Nature of ShenandoahThe Life of Isle RoyaleGreat Smoky MountainsSuperior Wilderness: Isle Royale National ParkHuron: The Seasons of a Great LakeNatural Missouri: Working with the LandPotomac Pathway: A Nature Guide to the C&O Canal, and Where to Watch Birds in Azerbaijan. His more than 100 articles include subjects such as environmental conditions in Azerbaijan; selective logging and wildlife in Malaysia; shifting cultivation in Sarawak, Malaysia; increasing bird populations in Singapore; searching for Ivory Gulls in Newfoundland; cougars in the Appalachian Mountains; and urban wildlife. He and his wife live in Washington, D.C.

About the book

In A Life in Nature the author describes the role nature has played in his life, explores the kinds of relationships people have with nature, assesses the importance of these relationships in caring for our Earth home, and stresses the need to help children form a bond with nature, for their own health and for growth into adult responsibility for restoring environmental health.

Beginning with his third year, he traces his own relationships with nature, as they expand geographically from his own backyard to other parts of Washington, D.C., then to other parts of America and finally the world. Emotionally and intellectually, the relationship grows from an attachment to pets, then a feeling for wild animals, plants, and landscapes that merges over time with scientific interest in these things and ecological systems, and finally ethical concerns about all life. Along the way there is a great love of birds, involvement with conservationists, writing for the National Park Service and free lance, and exploring nature and environmental issues in Malaysia, Nigeria, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, as he shares parts of his diplomat wife’s time in those countries.

He concludes his book first with a look at the range of relationships people have with nature, from purely practical to respect, love, and a reverence that sees nature as sacred. Then there is a return to children—introducing them to nature in a time of electronic distractions. The Appendix describes how this experience occurred in the lives of John Burroughs, John Muir, W.H. Hudson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and Roger Peterson.


“It is an articulate man’s life and work, and as such merits a place in everyone’s memory.”

—Dan Whitman, author of Answer Coming Soon