On the Trail of the Jackalope: How a Legend Captured the World’s Imagination and Helped Us Cure Cancer
Forthcoming from Pegasus Books (distributed by Simon and Schuster) on March 1, 2022. ISBN 9781643139333; ISBN-10 1643139339. 304 pages. Audiobook forthcoming from Blackstone Audio.
The never-before-told story of the horned rabbit—the myths, the hoaxes, the very real scientific breakthrough it inspired—and how it became a cultural touchstone of the American West. Read More about On the Trail of the Jackalope: How a Legend Captured the World’s Imagination and Helped Us Cure Cancer.
How to Cuss in Western: And Other Missives from the High Desert
Shambhala / Roost Books (distributed by Penguin Random House), 2018. ISBN 9781611804614 (paperback).
This book of humorous creative nonfiction contains 35 essays (of approximately 2,000-words each), each a small story about the wildlife, landscape, and strange human characters in the remote high desert. By turns moving and funny, these essays deeply engage a home landscape, exploring the inspiring beauty and often the downright weirdness of living in a place that is both exhilarating and intimidating. The stories included here range from flash floods to wildfire, from rodeos to the Muppets, from harvester ants to hens to hedgehogs, from stirring septic tanks to trapping leprechauns, and include a practical lesson on western American profanity and a natural and cultural history of flatulence. Read More about How to Cuss in Western.
Rants from the Hill: On Packrats, Bobcats, Wildfires, Curmudgeons, a Drunken Mary Kay Lady, and Other Encounters with the Wild in the High Desert
Shambhala / Roost Books (distributed by Penguin Random House), 2017. ISBN 10: 1611804574; ISBN 13: 978-1611804577 (paperback); ISBN 9780834840553 (E-book).
This book of place-based, narrative creative nonfiction collects many of the “Rants from the Hill,” 2,000-word essays unified by their focus on the experience of making home in the western Great Basin Desert. The Rants employ a desert rat narrator whose perspective and sensibility produce a unique brand of humor that embraces both the challenges and contradictions inherent in dwelling in the remote high desert. Chapters have appeared in magazines including High Country News, Orion, Terrain.org, Sustainable Play, and ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. Rants from the Hill was chosen a Notable Book for the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. Read More about Rants from the Hill.
Raising Wild: Dispatches from a Home in the Wilderness
Shambhala / Roost Books (distributed by Penguin Random House), 2016. ISBN 10: 1611803454; ISBN 13: 978-1-61180-345-7 (hardcover); ISBN 9780834840553 (E-book); ISBN 10: 1611804590; ISBN 13:978-1611804591 (paperback).
This book of creative nonfiction explores environmental experience in the context of parenting in western Nevada’s rugged, high-elevation Great Basin Desert. Chapters combine humor, lyricism, natural history, and reflections on raising two young daughters in an extreme desert landscape. A number of chapters have appeared in magazines that feature environmental literature, including Orion, Ecotone, Slate, Hawk and Handsaw, Whole Terrain, High Country News, Places Journal, and Utne Reader. Various of these chapters have also received Honorable Mention for the Pushcart Prize and been recognized as Notable Essays in The Best American Essays (three chapters), The Best Creative Nonfiction, The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and The Best American Non-required Reading (a humor anthology). Raising Wild was a finalist for the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, the Mountain West Center Evans-Handcart Award, and the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment Creative Book Award. Read More about Raising Wild.
‘The Best Read Naturalist’: Nature Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Co-editor with Clinton Mohs. University of Virginia Press, 2017. ISBN 9780813939513 (cloth); ISBN 9780813939520 (paper); ISBN 97808013939537 (E-book).
An unprecedented, career-spanning scholarly edition of thirteen of Emerson’s little-known sermons, lectures, and essays that engage with nineteenth-century natural history. Includes critical introduction, headnotes for each selection, and a further reading section. Listed by Chicago Review of Books as among “The Best Nature Writing of 2017,” and nominated for the MLA James Russell Lowell Prize.
John Muir’s Last Journey: South to the Amazon and East to Africa; Unpublished Journals and Selected Correspondence, editor. Foreword by Robert Michael Pyle. Washington, D.C.: Island Press/Shearwater Books, 2001. ISBN 1-55963-640-8 (cloth); ISBN 10: 1559636408; ISBN 13: 9781559636407 (paper); ISBN 9781559636407 (E-book). Audiobook released by Audible Studios in 2016 (Reader: Allan Robertson).
Reviewed in more than 50 venues, including the New York Review of Books, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Outside, Orion, and Audubon, this book was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, the National Outdoor Book Award, the PEN Center USA West Nonfiction Award, the James Russell Lowell Prize, the Christian Gauss Award, and the Association for Documentary Editing Butterfield Award, and was ranked a “Must Read” by Today’s Books. The release of John Muir’s Last Journey was supported by a book tour that included ten radio interviews and dozens of readings throughout California and the Pacific Northwest.
Reading the Roots: American Nature Writing before Walden. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8203-2547-3 (cloth); ISBN 0-8203-2548-1 (paper).
A widely-reviewed study and collection of early American environmental writing. The Introduction to Reading the Roots has been translated into Chinese, and has been published in Chinese in Journal of Poyang Lake (2011) and in China Green Times (2012).
The ISLE Reader: Ecocriticism, 1993-2003. Co-editor with Scott Slovic. Foreword by Patrick D. Murphy. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8203-2516-3 (cloth); ISBN 0-8203-2517-1 (paper).
An anthology of critical articles that helped chart the trajectory of literature and environment studies. Includes essays first published in the journal ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, which Mike Branch served as Book Review Editor for sixteen years (during which time he edited reviews of more than 850 new books).
Reading the Earth: New Directions in the Study of Literature and the Environment. Co-editor with Rochelle Johnson, Daniel Patterson, and Scott Slovic. Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 1998. ISBN 0-89301-213-0 (cloth); ISBN 0-89301-220-3 (paper).
An early anthology of environmental literary essays that helped to chart the emergent field of ecocriticism.
The Height of Our Mountains: Nature Writing from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley. Co-editor with Daniel J. Philippon. Foreword by John Elder. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8018-5632-9 (cloth); ISBN 0-8018-5691-4 (paper).
A widely-reviewed collection of regional environmental writing that was supported by a book tour and was also featured on regional radio and television shows, including Blue Ridge Nightline. The book was nominated for the Library of Virginia Non-Fiction Award, and its Introduction was nominated for the Southern Environmental Law Center Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment.
Under the Sign of Nature: Explorations in Ecocriticism. Series Co-editors Michael P. Branch, SueEllen Campbell, Kate Berry, and John Tallmadge. Published by University of Virginia Press. (Launched in 2000)
Mike Branch is Co-founder and Series Co-editor of this book series from University of Virginia Press. The series, which focuses on the relationship between human culture and the natural environment, has published 37 titles to date.