*WSJ+ Book Club Selection, September 2022
"A stirring story of a husband and wife and their passionate devotion to the land—and great food. ... An exuberant celebration of an astounding couple."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This America of Ours" is a deeply subversive and patriotic book that inspires a coyote's howl. It is a brilliant rendering of what 'the open space of democracy' must be if we are to survive its present state of erosion. Nate Schweber possesses the ferocity of a journalist and the agility of a storyteller who animates the magnificent and mischievous spirit of Bernard DeVoto, one of the most astute writers of the American West and dogged defenders of public lands. Schweber also brings the forgotten intelligence of Avis DeVoto into her full light as a persuasive champion of wildness. This book reads like a thriller with the twist and turns of history thoroughly charged by two active minds and the community that surrounded them. We learn how sharp-edged politics are transformed through bold literary actions into public policies that protect sacred lands that not only have shaped the diversity of our character, but ignited our imaginations."
-Terry Tempest Williams, author of "The Hour of Land"
"This America of Ours is so many fantastic things all at the same time: the story of a complex marriage, the history of one of our most important historians, and a razor's-edge drama about a critical fight to preserve America's public lands - the wild places that define our nation's soul. And Schweber manages to tell all these stories in a thoroughly gripping narrative, a story whose pages I could not wait to turn."
-Michael Punke, Author of "The Revenant", "Ridgeline", and "Last Stand"
"Journalist Schweber (Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park) delivers a sharp chronicle of the collaboration between conservationist Bernard DeVoto (1897–1955) and his wife and editor, Avis (1904–1989). A prolific writer, Bernard fought to save federal lands during the McCarthy era, publishing an exposé in Harper’s that “exposed and thwarted a secret plot... to force the sell-off of as much as 230 million acres of America’s public lands, including national parks, monuments, forests, and grasslands.” Schweber depicts Bernard’s wife, Avis, as a partner in every way—often among his first readers, she “edited, fact-checked, researched, indexed, answered correspondence, and proofread until her eyes gave out,” (as well, she championed the work of her friend Julia Child, finding her a publisher in 1961 for Mastering the Art of French Cooking). Schweber offers a comprehensive account of the DeVotos’ fight to protect public lands, plus some scathing portrayals of their adversaries, including Nevada senator Patrick McCarran, who withheld appropriations from faltering National Park services and whose “largesse flowed disproportionately to his friends,” and the FBI, who paid visits to the DeVotos’ house due to claims of communism. The result is a fascinating biography, worthy of two remarkable lives."
"Charming and absorbing, This America of Ours is the biography of a marriage between two lavishly talented characters, the witty and profane Avis DeVoto, who would become Julia Child's best friend and editor, and western historian and conservationist Bernard DeVoto. Schweber weaves together their fight to save public lands in the West with a moving account of their literary partnership and enduring love. The result is an exuberant delight, full of the couple's righteous invective against crooked politicians and their devotion to haute cuisine: Don't miss the recipe for the DeVoto Dry Martini."
-Caroline Fraser, author of "Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder"
"No question, Bernard DeVoto stands as one of America’s great historians. But more than write history, he lived it and made it. Reading Nate Schweber’s energetic and commanding account of DeVoto’s impassioned career in defense of national parks and public lands, and his defiance of two of the country’s most shameless bullies, Joseph McCarthy and Pat McCarran, the timeline of the despicable deeds that DeVoto risked his reputation and livelihood to thwart feels an awful lot like NOW. This America of Ours is alarming, gripping, and gratifying. Herein justice is done -- to the lives of DeVoto and his equally brave and brilliant wife, Avis, and to the better angels of our democracy. Welcome, if you please, two overdue inductees into the pantheon of environmental heroes."
-John Taliaferro, author of "Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West"
"Nate Schweber’s masterful narrative fulfills the most important agenda for books—shedding new light on a subject we already know and love. I have been reading Bernard Devoto books and essays for my entire life and only now do I understand his enormous contribution to land conservation. This is a vital book about the American experience.”
-Rinker Buck, Author of “The Oregon Trail.”
Nate Schweber is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Anthony Bourdain’s Explore Parts Unknown, and others. His conservation articles won awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America in 2015 and 2018. In 2020, a ProPublica series he contributed to won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. A Montana native, he lives in Brooklyn, NY.