The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island
The inspiring biography of the adventuresome naturalist Carol Ruckdeschel and her crusade to save her island home from environmental disaster.
In a “moving homage . . . that artfully articulates the ferocities of nature and humanity,” biographer Will Harlan captures the larger-than-life story of biologist, naturalist, and ecological activist Carol Ruckdeschel, known to many as the wildest woman in America. She wrestles alligators, eats roadkill, rides horses bareback, and lives in a ramshackle cabin that she built by hand in an island wilderness. A combination of Henry David Thoreau and Jane Goodall, Carol is a self-taught scientist who has become a tireless defender of sea turtles on Cumberland Island, a national park off the coast of Georgia (Kirkus Reviews).
Cumberland, the country’s largest and most biologically diverse barrier island, is celebrated for its windswept dunes and feral horses. Steel magnate Thomas Carnegie once owned much of the island, and in recent years, Carnegie heirs and the National Park Service have clashed with Carol over the island’s future. What happens when a dirt-poor naturalist with only a high school diploma becomes an outspoken advocate on a celebrated but divisive island? Untamed is the story of an American original who fights for what she believes in, no matter the cost, “an environmental classic that belongs on the shelf alongside Carson, Leopold, Muir, and Thoreau” (Thomas Rain Crowe, author of Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods).
“Vivid. . . . Ms. Ruckdeschel’s biography, and the way this wandering soul came to settle for so many decades on Cumberland Island, is big enough on its own, but Mr. Harlan hints at bigger questions.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Wild country produces wild people, who sometimes are just what’s needed to keep that wild cycle going. This is a memorable portrait.” —Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
“Deliciously engrossing. . . . Readers are in for a wild ride.” —The Citizen-Times