In 1973, the U.S. Congress approved one of the most sweeping environmental initiatives in American history: the Endangered Species Act. The goal of this ambitious new law was to stem the rising tide of extinction that had swept away more than a thousand plants and animals since the beginning of the seventeenth century. The post-World War II period, particularly the late 1960s and 1970s, witnessed a remarkable environmental awakening in the United States and the West more broadly. While the Endangered Species Act undoubtedly rode the crest of the postwar environmental movement, it would be a mistake to see the measure solely as a consequence of that movement. Academic natural history experienced transformation and growth in the century leading up to the Endangered Species Act. This book recognizes the central role that naturalists have played in American wildlife conservation and the protection of endangered species. It provides a long view on their sustained and substantial efforts to discover, problematize, and respond to the issue of extinction over a roughly two-century period leading up to the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
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