Arts and Culture

How about the ground?

JMU professor's second book gets down to Earth


by Eric Gorton

 

SUMMARY: Bogard said the book is written for a general audience and that readers should enjoy the accounts of his world travels while doing research for the book.


After raising awareness in his first book about light pollution and how it's clouding our view of the nighttime sky, English professor Paul Bogard has shifted his attention 180 degrees to the overlooked ground for his second.

"The Ground Beneath Us: From the Oldest Cities to the Last Wilderness, What Dirt Tells Us About Who We Are," was published by Little, Brown and Company and hit bookstores on March 21.

Like his first book, Bogard's goal with "The Ground Beneath Us," is to get readers to think about a natural resource that is largely taken for granted.

"We spend 90 to 95 percent of our time inside," Bogard said. "And when we walk outside, most of us walk on pavement. So we've become literally separated from natural ground. . . . And I think that as we've become separated from the natural ground, we've become separated from the fact that the natural ground, the natural world, gives us what we need to live."

Bogard said the book is written for a general audience and that readers should enjoy the accounts of his world travels while doing research for the book. He describes visits to Treblinka, the Nazi death camp in Poland; farm fields in Iowa; rural parts of Colombia; and major cities such as New York and London.

"At the end of the book, I come home to the place where I live and I walk out the door and look down and look at the ground right where I live, because ultimately the most important ground to any of us the ground directly under our feet."

Bogard says he is lucky that he gets to teach environmental writing and that he tells his students they are "learning the same skills from me that you'll use the rest of your life as a writer. It's not like it's something way different when you get published." Find out more about Bogard's teaching philosophy in this Taking on Tomorrow feature.

The Ground Beneath us can be purchased from http://www.paul-bogard.com/books-and-writings/.


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Published: Monday, April 24, 2017

Last Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017

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