First in the Field: America's Pioneering Naturalists by Robert Elman is a 231-page hardcover published by Mason/Charter, 1977. The dust jacket is lightly faded from the sun along the edges. The top of the spine and bottom corners are lightly bumped. Inside, the pages are clean and crisp, with tight binding in fine condition.
One of the characteristics that sets man apart from all other creatures sharing this planet is the intensity of his curiosity about those creatures--in fact, about all of the fauna and flora privileged or doomed to cohabit a small, crowded, endangered, yet incalculably rich environment called Earth. The pioneering naturalists were exemplars of that curiosity, sometimes timorous and fantasy-ridden, but often courageous and marked by genius.
Modern concern for the preservation of the environment was not, after all, sparked by today's neo-environmentalists but by the first scientists, artists, explorers who penetrated America's wilderness. This book recreates the lives, times, adventures, misadventures, follies, and enormous achievements of men who probed the unknown at first hand--not in the laboratory but in the wilds. Their contributions to learning in America became contributions to the world-wide foundations of the natural sciences. They were men like Mark Catesby, John and William Bartram, Alexander Wilson, John James Audobon, John Bachman, Louis Agassiz, John Wesley Powell, and John Burroughs.