A resource for those who collect George R. Stewart books, or books by other authors.

Antiques Road Show often shares good tips for collectors.  One such tip, broadcast about a year ago, led to a lover of books who has set up a small company that produces and sells reproductions of classic book covers.  It’s a wonderful way to protect your historic bound books.

Here’s a link to the section of his site devoted to George R. Stewart books:  http://www.facsimiledustjackets.com/cgi-bin/fdj455/4127.html

You can easily get to the main page of the site from the Earth Abides/ GRS section.

Some collectors have mixed feelings about using such reproduction covers, fearing that they might be used as forgeries, or because of copyright concerns.  But the scholar who runs the company is careful to note on each cover that it is a facsimile, so these covers cannot be used as forgeries; and none of these covers have been produced or used for several decades — the books have been updated with new covers several times — so there will be no loss of income to publisher or author or agent through the use of these older covers for your old books.

Mark Terry, the artist/scholar who is keeping these beautiful covers alive, has many more covers than the 9,000  on the site — 40,000 now — so if you’re interested, send a request through his site.

Even if you have an original cover — and I’m luck to have two for my first editions/first printings of Earth Abides — a facsimile cover is a good way to protect those valuable books.


Jack Stewart’s Obituary in the San Jose Mercury-News

The  obituary gives a fine overview of Jack’s remarkable career.  He was the pre-eminent geologist for much of the land that John Wesley Powell first surveyed in the nineteenth century.  Powell later established the United States Geological Survey, where Jack worked for his entire professional career.  Sadly, the obit does not mention the work he did on his father’s books — designing a faux national forest for Fire, then mapping it; doing photography for US 40; and helping with field research at “Sheep Rock.”  A modest man, Jack did not publicize these contributions to literature.  But it is important  to share this part of his distinguished legacy.    It is also important to note that, like his father and mother, Jack chose public service over a potentially lucrative private career.   In doing so, Jack, like many of his and my generation, modeled an excellent example of working virtuously for the public good.

At the moving conclusion of Earth Abides, Ish hands his Hammer to Jack.  In the same way, when George R. Stewart died, he left the Hammer of Ish to his son, Jack.  That symbolic act shows the importance of our friend and colleague, Jack Stewart.The Hammer of Ish2 copy


If you’d like to read the book, don’t use Kindle, and don’t want to pay the price for the printed version, you can now order it for Android.  The price is the same as the Kindle price, $19 and change.

Here’s the link to the Android eBook:


Like the Kindle version, this version can also be read on a PC.


Bob Pavlik’s Review of The Life and Truth of George R. Stewart

Bob Pavlik has just sent a copy of his review of the GRS Biography.  With his kind permission, I’ll post it here.

Bob recently won the California State Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, a well-deserved honoring of his long career in preserving the history of this place.

Donald M. Scott, The Life and Truth of George R. Stewart: A Literary Biography of the Author of Earth Abides. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing Company, 2012; photographs, notes, bibliography, 246 pages, $55 softcover, available at www.mcfarlandpub.com or by calling (800) 253-2187; or on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Life-Truth-George-Stewart-ebook/dp/B00AQCEY0O/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Reviewed by Robert C. Pavlik

The times, trials, travels and accomplishment of George R. Stewart (1895-1980) are well documented in this engaging biography, written by a longtime student and admirer of the former UC Berkeley English professor.

Stewart was a Pennsylvania native whose family was acquainted with another writer and California emigrant, the poet Robinson Jeffers. Stewart grew up in southern California but went east for his education, earning his A.B. degree at Princeton in 1917 before joining the U.S. Army. Following a medical discharge he enrolled at UC Berkeley for his M.A. (his thesis was about another writer and traveler, Robert Louis Stevenson), before finishing his studies at Columbia University. Stewart took a break for a 3,181 mile bike trip through the United Kingdom and Europe; he was a peripatetic who would later put his rambles to work in several well regarded books.

Following his graduation with a Ph.D. from Columbia, Stewart took a job at the University of Michigan, where he met his future wife, Theodosia (also known as “Ted”). In 1923 he moved to Berkeley (and witnessed the great fire of September 1923), where he assumed a professorship that would last for 39 years. The couple was married the following year in Ann Arbor, and had two children, Jack and Jill, who were raised in the Berkeley Hills as well as in a writer’s cabin in the Sierra Nevada, and on the road while their father conducted his research for his many books.

Stewart had a strong sense of place when writing his non-fiction and his many novels; in that sense, he pre-dated the venerable Wallace Stegner by several years.  Later, the two men came to be friends, visiting each other at the homes across the San Francisco Bay from one another. Stewart conducted extensive field work for Ordeal by Hunger­, for many years the standard account of the Donner Party. His clear affection for the Sierra Nevada led to two more stories set there, Storm and Fire, both paying homage to the workers who face natural (and sometimes human caused) challenges with courage and aplomb. Stewart loved to drive, crossing the country on U.S. 40 several times for his photographic essay of the same name. As an odologist Stewart wrote the first nationwide treatment, Names on the Land, encompassing an impressive array of place names all across the United States. And, as a conservationist and close observer of the events surrounding the dropping of the atomic bomb, he wrote a science-fiction treatment of life in the Bay Area following a worldwide cataclysmic event.  Earth Abides takes its name from a passage in the Bible, but even the Good Book ceases to hold meaning for the post-apocalyptic survivors in this classic story. Stewart even played a critical role in the loyalty oath controversy that roiled the University of California in the 1950s; his book, The Year of the Oath is regarded by Scott as “a classic study of the fight to preserve our civil liberties and a testament to academic freedom…” (p. 127). At the end of the 1950s Stewart was drawn to another conflict, in another century: the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg.  He focused on 15 hours of those three days, when Confederate General George Pickett led 10,500 men in an attack on Union forces. Scott write, “In Pickett’s Charge, his last book of the first decade of the Oath, Stewart asked a question which grew out of the time: ‘In a sense, even the charge may stand for all of human life. Some time in the years, if not daily, must not each of us hear the command to rise and go forward, and cross the field, and go up against the guns?’”

The more you learn about George R. Stewart, the greater your admiration will grow.  You’ll also learn something about the biographer (Don Scott), and you’ll admire him, too, for his persistence as well as his enthusiasm. Scott was a California State Park Ranger at Thornton State Beach in Daly City (south of San Francisco) where he got to know the Stewarts in the 1970s, and where a trail was dedicated to the prolific author and Professor Emeritus, who died in August 1980. Wallace Stegner considered the naming of this trail as one of the highest honors Stewart received during his lifetime. Another honor, albeit posthumous, is this fine biography.

Robert C. Pavlik is the author of Norman Clyde: Legendary Mountaineer of California’s Sierra Nevada (Heyday Books and the Yosemite Association, 2008) and a Thornton State Beach alumnus.

Frank Brusca’s comments on Jack Stewart’s Life

Frank Brusca is a leading “odologist” — a student of historic highways.  He has written about them in American Road magazine.  His research is also the subject of several chapters in William Least Heat Moon’s latest book, Roads to Quoz.

Frank is working on a rephotography project for George R. Stewart’s classic U.S. 40 — the first book to explore the geography of a nation using one of its major highways.  Stewart’s book relies heavily on photographs taken at representative locations along the old highway.  His book was followed by Vale and Vale’s U.S. 40 Today, in which the Vales followed George Stewart’s route and photographed the same sites 30 years later.  Frank is working on another re-photography of the Stewart sites.

Here’s Frank’s honoring of Jack Stewart:

Frank wrote: “This weekend, John ‘Jack’ Stewart passed away. He was a brilliant and noted geologist and geographer (his work was a synthesis of the two disciplines) who helped draw up the USGS maps of Nevada. He was also the son of George R. Stewart and he accompanied his father on a ten-week journey across Route 40 in 1950 that resulted in the landmark ‘U.S. 40: Cross-Section of the United States’ (Jack even took a few of the photographs). I had the great pleasure of knowing Jack when Donald M. Scott introduced us to each other many years ago. Jack was very supportive of my Route 40 Rephotography project and he provided me with many details and family notes not found in any book or library. I last saw Jack in 2007 when I spent two days with him and Joyce in Truckee. My most vivid memory of Jack was when I brought up the subject of gold mining in Nevada. His eyes lit up and he became very animated as he explained the geological structure of the state. Jack was a great man and I am honored to have known him.”

Dr. John Stewart — Jack — has passed away

Jack Stewart passed away today.

Jack was infinitely helpful with the writing of the biography of his father, George R. Stewart.   He shared his memories in great detail, and (like his sister Jill Stewart Evenson), brought life into the book.)

Jack once said that it was hard to be the son of George R. Stewart.  He felt overpowered by his father’s ability to research and write works that helped define the twentieth century by popularizing the ecological view of human affairs decades before anyone else did so.

Yet Jack was as accomplished in the same general field, if in a more focused way:  Jack was THE USGS “Man” for Nevada.  He produced the USGS map of Nevada, and wrote the book that accompanied it.    Jack also helped his father with the research and photography for Fire, US 40 and Sheep Rock; so he is also an unsung hero in the work of George R. Stewart.

The incident which most shows how George R. Stewart felt about Jack is in the great classic, Earth Abides.   At the moving conclusion of the novelThe Hammer of Ish2 copy (which was dedicated to Jill), Ish, the human hero passes his hammer – symbol of power and leadership – to his descendant Jack.

There was a real hammer.  Jack inherited it.  So, in the real world as well as George R. Stewart’s world-changing book, Jack became the keeper of the Hammer of Ish.

One of my goals in writing the GRS biography was to produce a book that Jack  would feel did justice to his father, and the family.  He did get to see and read the book, enjoyed it, and bought copies to share with friends.  That is perhaps my greatest satisfaction from the entire project.

If you are so inclined, and find a moment to do so, please send some positive thoughts toward Jack, and his family.

Don Scott