Discussion Questions for A Road Running Southward
Poster for America’s Wild Read Winter 2023 with head and shoulders image of author and image of book cover for A Road Running Southward. Graphics: Richard DeVries/USFWS

This winter, the USFWS Library and the Wild Read community is reading A Road Running Southward: Following John Muir's Journey through an Endangered Land by Dan Chapman. Dan Chapman set off to follow Muir's journey. The cherished Southern landscape has evolved through time and experienced pressures like urban sprawl, toxic exposures, climate-induced changes to native species, and the loss of green space. Chapman argues, "There is no other thousand-mile walk that covers such richness of flora and fauna and no other place that tallies as many species at risk of extinction." Through his book, we understand how our choices shape our lands for years to come and all that we have to lose in the biodiverse and beautiful South. Check out our list of discussion questions as you read this eye-opening ecological travelogue with us.  

Come join us for our upcoming online book discussion on Thursday, February 16 at 3 PM EST. Please register in advance for our book discussion. At our book club meetings, we have cultivated a casual atmosphere where we reflect on the reading, answer discussion questions, and enjoy some time together through a conversation on conservation literature.

  1. A Road Running Southward covers a lot of ground, literally and figuratively, in its travelogue approach. What city or story was most memorable to you? 

  2.  Dan Chapman acknowledges Muir as a father of the conservation movement, a “hippie” in his time, and for his racism. How do we reckon with the whole histories of our conservation heroes, the good and the bad? 

  3. One of the themes we return to in the Wild Read is always climate change climate change
    Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

    Learn more about climate change
    . How does this compare to other climate books you’ve read? 

  4. Where do we find hope in this book about human impacts on our environment- increased development, industrial disasters, climate change and its effects like natural disasters and drought? 

  5. In the chapter on Tybee Island, “A Coastal Playground is Disappearing,” Chapman states that the “Defend, adapt, retreat” mantra for climate change fighters is harder to push in tourist areas. How do we compromise tourism and enjoyment of nature with the need to conserve and protect our environment? 

Brought to you by the USFWS Library, America's Wild Read is a virtual quarterly book club where we aim to inspire you to connect with the outdoors and nature through literature. We hope you will read along with us as we feature various conservation books every quarter - contemporary, traditional, new, and classic. If you want to learn more about America's Wild Read and how to participate email catherine_blalack@fws.gov