I have all my life been considering distant effects and always sacrificing immediate success and applause to that of the future. In laying out Central Park we determined to think of no result to be realized in less than forty years. — Frederick Law Olmsted
So many surprises in A Clearing In the Distance. Olmsted was an autodidact. A slow starter, a dabbler in disparate enterprises, he kept afloat with his father’s loans. He himself was his father’s ‘Central Park’, the long investment whose glories would become apparent in the future. Fame first came as a journalist. He sailed to China; he bought a farm; he traveled to Europe; he started a magazine; he managed the largest gold mine in California.
It is the breadth of Olmsted’s curiosity that makes his writing compelling.
Other reading intersections: Erik Larson’s The Devil in White City made me thirsty to know more about FLO. Michael Pollan referenced Olmsted’s ideas in Second Nature. By chance, I’ve landed in books set in the late-19th century. The wider I read, the greater my familiarity grows and the joy of recognition sparks.
Finally, I believe growing up in Lombard, IL, walking through our own Lilacia Park, designed by Jens Jensen, and nearby Morton Arboretum, a 1700-acre tree museum, predisposed me to love this book.
For those who like biographies, history, and books with an index and maps: 4 stars
My father would have thought you were fabulous. He tried sooooo hard to encourage me to read biographies and autobiographies and books that introduced some aspect of the wide world. Anything, he hoped, except the constant parade of Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and Donna Parker. And you know, every time I read one of those Daddy/Carol type books I love them! And slide right back into the mysteries. I am going to push back on my narrow rut and try “A Clearing in the Distance”
That is kind of you to say so. I hope you like it. Hint: the first two sentences made my word-bird spirit soar.