Books for Young People
  A Fierce Green Fire: Aldo Leopold's Life and Legacy
New edition from Oxford University Press, with extensive additional materials on his legacy

A Fierce Green Fire:
Aldo Leopold's Life and Legacy

Illustrated with historic photos
Oxford University Press, 2016, 2000
Globe Pequot, 2005
ISBN 978-0-7627-3663-8
Hardcover edition, Falcon Press, 1996
ISBN 978-1-56044-478-7

For anyone interested in wildlife, birds, wilderness areas, parks, ecology, conservation, environmental literature, and ethics, the name Aldo Leopold is sure to pop up. Since first publication, A Fierce Green Fire: Aldo Leopold's Life and Legacy has remained the classic short, inspiring biography of Leopold—the perfect companion to reading his ever popular A Sand County Almanac. Winning numerous awards, this comprehensive account of his life story is dynamic and readable, written in the context of the history of American conservation and illustrated with historic photographs. 

Marybeth Lorbiecki has now enriched A Fierce Green Fire in a way no other biography on Leopold has, adding numerous chapters on the ripple effects of his ideas, books, ecological vision, land ethic, and Shack, as well as of the ecological contributions of his children, graduate students, contemporary scholars, and organizations—and the wilderness lands he helped preserve. Lorbiecki weaves these stories and factual information into the biography in a compelling way that keeps both lay and academic readers engaged. 

In the introduction to this edition, Lorbiecki makes it clear how much better our lives are because Leopold lived and why today we so radically need what he left us to bring about paradigm shifts in our ethical, economic, and cultural thinking. Instead of losing relevance, Leopold's legacy has gained ever more necessity and traction in the face of contemporary national and world challenges, such as species loss and climate change. Even the phenological studies he started at as a hobby are proving valuable, showing the climatic shifts that have occurred at the Shack lands since the 1930s, recognized by the plants and animals.

The book was recommended in Publishers’ Weekly, Booklist, American Forests, Sierra Club Magazine, School Library Journal, and numerous internet sites, such as About.com: Forestry.

Interview with the author about Aldo Leopold and this book

Marybeth's response to a wonderful nature blog on the nature-oriented “Pines Above the Snow”

Purchase this book from the publisher.

Minnesota Book Award, Biography and History
Distinguished Service to History Award, State Historical Society of Wisconsin

“Those unfamiliar with Leopold will relish this book; those who already know him will enjoy the retelling.” School Library Journal

“David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club Foundation, states that if you have already read A Sand County Almanac [by Aldo Leopold], you will love Aldo Leopold: A Fierce Green Fire. And if you have not read either, ‘it is important that you drop everything and read both.’ I agree with Mr. Brower and recommend this book to anyone looking for an engaging story about a fascinating man and his ideas about nature.” Imprint, James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History

“Here is the plain story of a man’s life, a warm and human biography of Aldo Leopold as son, husband, father, and teacher. Biographer Marybeth Lorbiecki traces Leopold’s life, carefully chronicling his personal experiences without overly imposing her own interpretation of how these experiences shaped his character and eventual writings. Nevertheless, she offer rare insights into the human side of this now-revered conservation philosopher ... For those of us who treasure Aldo Leopold’s writings ... this biography will deepen our understanding of his timeless words ... For those yet to discover Aldo Leopold, this biography is a wonderful way to begin a special journey.” American Forests

“Aldo Leopold (1886-1948) is revered among environmentalists and naturalists for many reasons: as an officer of the U.S. Forest Service, he was instrumental in formulating policies that helped protect wildlands and wild animals; as an activist, he helped found the Wilderness Society and other public-interest organizations; and as a writer, he crafted a number of fine, philosophically charged essays and books, including his famous memoir, A Sand County Almanac. Marybeth Lorbiecki’s overview of Leopold's life addresses each of these contributions in turn, and it does a good job of explaining why Leopold's influence should endure today. Of added interest are the many photographs Lorbiecki has discovered in family and government archives, images that help flesh out a figure who has, in ecological circles, become something of a saint—and, as a result, a little unreal ...” —Amazon.com

  Following St. Francis
Following St. Francis:
John Paul II's Call for Ecological Action

Rizzoli Ex Libris, April 1, 2014
ISBN 978-0-8478-4271-1

“The ecological crisis is a moral crisis!”
        —Pope John Paul II

This dynamic book provides a fresh look on our lives and environmental problems by exploring the relationship between faith, science, society, and spirituality through the teachings of this saint.

Pope Francis, too, has his say in this work filled with vibrant and inspiring quotations, stories, and practical approaches to the ecological crises of today.

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and founder of 350.org, provides the book’s introduction.

You’ll never look at the environment, the fate of the earth, or Pope John Paul II the same way again.

Praise for the Book
""Following St. Francis; John Paul II's Call for Ecological Action, written and complied by Marybeth Lorbiecki is a dynamic book written in easy, interesting narrative that offers a fresh look at environmental problems by investigating the ecological teachings of St. John Paul." Today's Catholic

In Following St. Francis: John Paul II’s Call for Ecological Action, Marybeth Lorbiecki uses primary sources to successfully weave together the holistic ecological vision of St. John Paul II. She convincingly argues that the late pontiff’s ecological paradigm is both inspired by St. Francis of Assisi and underpins in many ways the work of Pope Francis.

"Lorbiecki observes that for John Paul, care of God’s creation is a moral imperative fundamentally rooted in Catholic teaching and connected with the church’s other social concerns. He attributes environmental degradation to many ills like consumerism, unbridled capitalism, unsustainable investment practices, overpopulation, and corporate greed. Lorbiecki illustrates how John Paul calls all people to deeper care of creation through conversion, temperance, solidarity, and promotion of the common good. Using the pope’s treatment of 12 pressing ecological challenges, she notes how he explicitly accepts the reality of humanity’s impact on climate change and endorses renewable energy technologies. … the book will undoubtedly benefit popular and scholarly audiences alike." —Dan DiLeo, US Catholic Review

"I am thoroughly enjoying this book—I am not religious, yet so much of it resonates with me as a human being, struggling each day as we all do, to do our best for our family, our community and our world. I particularly enjoyed the Addresses in the back (to Young Muslims, To Aborigines…)."
—Linda M. Larson

"Engaging . . . .Some of the world's poorest people are currently on the front lines of climate change. Marybeth Lorbiecki makes us aware that Pope John Paul II and our new Vatican leadership views this threat as a great moral and spiritual issue of our day impacting all of God's creation." —Rabbi Warren G. Stone, National Religious Coalition on Creation Care, Co-Chair

"What an amazing book. ... John Paul II was truly ahead of his time. The book is brilliantly written, thought provoking, well researched and a treasure trove of information ... For Catholics and non-Catholics alike, this is a great read. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!" —W.J. Schneider

  Painting the Dakota
Painting the Dakota:
Seth Eastman at Fort Snelling
illustrated with paintings by Seth Eastman
Afton Historical Society Press, 2000
ISBN 978-1-890434-32-8

Seth Eastman came to the Minnesota Territory as an army officer in the 1830s and again in the 1840s, while the lands still belonged to the eastern Dakota or Santee Sioux. With the eye of an artist, Eastman captured the beauty and details of their everyday lives. The middle section of the book moves through the Dakota seasons of the year illustrated by Eastman's eyewitness paintings, This book is artistically laid out and written so adults as well as younger readers can enjoy it. This book served as one of the sources of the award-winning PBS special, “Seth Eastman: Painting the Dakota.”

Purchase this book from the publisher.

This work also led to the research and writing on one of Seth Eastman’s Dakota grandsons, resulting in Beyond Wounded Knee: The Life and Works of OHIYESA—Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman.

Midwest Independent Publisher Association, Best of Show
Benjamin Franklin Award, Publishers Marketing Association
Independent Publishers Book Award

“Lorbiecki ... has presented the dual story of the Dakota people and the Army officer/artist who portrayed them, in a balanced and detailed style. The text mainly focuses on Eastman's relationship with the Dakota Nation and kin ... and his steady rise to prominence as a first-rate artist of the American frontier and Dakota Nation. Lorbiecki has judiciously spiced the text with Eastman's notes and Dakota oral histories ... Lorbiecki's writing is precise. She handles complex historical topics, like the growing dependence of the Dakota on Anglo-American merchandise, and the regional Dakota-Ojibwe conflicts with clarity, and without oversimplification. Her portrayal of Eastman is honest ... Lorbiecki will hopefully keep investigating and writing on historical, ethnic and environmental subjects she has covered in her past books. Her scholarship and style hold as much detail as one of Eastman's watercolors. Painting the Dakota recreates a fascinating portrait of early Minnesota history, its original inhabitants and the man who painted their world.” The Corresponder, University of Minnesota-Mankato

“At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Seth Eastman was at the top of his class in drawing, and when 2nd Lt. Eastman came to Fort Snelling, a frontier fort in Minnesota, in 1830, he found time to sketch—and time for love. He married Wakaninajinwin, the daughter of a Dakota (Eastern Sioux, sometimes called the Santee Sioux) chief. Eastman left Company I, 1st Infantry Regiment, the fort, his wife and his daughter (Winona, or Nancy) behind in January 1832 to join the Topographical Corps. A year later he was assigned to teach drawing back at West Point, where he found love again and married a white woman, Mary Henderson. But he would return to Fort Snelling, and he would not forget what he knew about the Dakota Indians. No artist in America knew more.

“After fighting Seminoles in Florida, Eastman, now a captain, was transferred in the summer of 1841 back to Fort Snelling, where he was able to further study the Dakotas and to sketch and paint them. He set up a studio right in the fort and began documenting on canvas the traditional ways of the Dakota people (and sometimes the Ojibwa Indians, too). He remained there until reassigned to Texas in September 1848. By then his illustrations had been published in his wife Mary’s book Dahcotah; or, Life and Legends of the Sioux, and soon he would become the illustrator for Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s six-volume study on the Indians of the United States. In April 1857, Eastman was sent back to Fort Snelling to survey the lands and sell the fort, since the Dakotas had been moved to reservations. Eastman spent his last years in Washington, D.C., painting Indian scenes and American forts, among other things. He died on August 31, 1875.

“Painting the Dakota tells the moving story of the artist and his families and is accompanied by more than 45 drawings and paintings, many of which were based on sketches Eastman had made in Minnesota. A descendant of Wakaninajinwin (Stands Sacred) and Seth Eastman, Lorei K. Crowchild says in the foreword that many other descendants “continue to live in and around Dakota communities in Minnesota and South Dakota.” And Seth Eastman’s artwork continues to have a life of its own. As Marybeth Lorbiecki points out in this nicely written little book (104 pages): “By capturing what he saw, Seth Eastman created a record in pictures unlike anyone else’s. No other painter of Indians left behind such realistic snapshots of the ‘‘Sioux’ and life before reservations.” —Chrys Ankeny, HistoryNet.com

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