To Reach The Spring


An urgent and deeply felt call to face our complicity in the earth’s destruction.

In the shadow of an escalating eco-crisis—a looming catastrophe that will dwarf the fallout from COVID-19—how can we explain our society’s failure to act? What will we tell future generations? Are we paralyzed because the problem is so vast in scope, or are there deeper reasons for the widespread passivity? Nathaniel Popkin explores the moral, social, and psychological dimensions of the crisis, outlining a path to a future spring.

“Think Thomas Paine Common Sense, Haldeman-Julius Little Blue Books during the social ferment between World Wars, samizdat dissent in the post-war Eastern bloc, or historian Timothy Snyder’s excellent little bestseller, On Tyranny.”—Charlie Quimby, in Mountain Journal

Winner of the Firebird Book Award, 2021.


“In a ruminative but urgent treatise, historian Popkin (The Year of the Return) takes a philosophical approach to climate change, drawing analogies to other crises in human history. … Popkin’s analysis picks up steam when he cites Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil”—originally formulated in reference to those who actively or passively facilitated Nazism’s crimes—to argue that, with humanity careening toward another historic catastrophe, silence and inaction about climate change is morally unacceptable. … In a glut of books on the topic, Popkin’s is notable for its thought-provoking longview perspective on how to think about and face climate change.”—Publishers Weekly

To Reach the Spring is a tour de force, both an incisive reckoning with the full magnitude of the climate emergency along with a visionary understanding of how and why we have come to this place. I read this book with an unruly range of emotions and states of mind including shame, unspeakable grief, existential dread, curiosity, insight, admiration for the author but finally, most of all, hope. By illuminating how our reverence for earth is intrinsically connected to our capacity to hope and to heal leading to an inexorable yearning to act, Nathaniel Popkin has offered us a way forward. This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about our future.”
—Gail Straub, award winning author of The Ashokan Way: Landscape’s Path Into Consciousness

“Nathaniel Popkin is a swordsmith. He hones words that cut deep through the lies and self-deceptions that license cruelty, revealing the brittle bones of an unjust, death-dealing culture. Everyone should read this book. It is clarifying, bracing, and ultimately transformative; truth-telling is essential for change, and change is essential.”
—Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Great Tide Rising

“How can we go diligently about our business while the daily disasters of climate change are already visibly recasting natural processes, forcing migration and violence? ‘We are the most slippery kind of criminal,’ explains Nathaniel Popkin in his searching new book To Reach the Spring. And he’s right, Americans (especially middle class and wealthy white Americans) have built up a resistance to the consciousness of their own complicity in the climate crisis. Exerting privilege without feeling privileged, we go about our quotidian consumption, and destruction, consumed by worry but never taking real action. Simultaneously told as a letter to a future descendant, a history of disaster, a personal confession, and a lie-stabbing op-ed, Popkin has crafted a read so melancholy and spiritual you won’t lay it aside until you’re done.”
—Scott Gabriel Knowles, author of The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America

To Reach The Spring will be available wherever books are sold beginning fall 2020.

Nathaniel Popkin discussing To Reach The Spring on Jefferson Public Radio, Oregon, USA, December 16, 2020
Nathaniel Popkin discussing To Reach The Spring on Stand Up! with Pete Dominick, New York, USA, January 12, 2021
Nathaniel Popkin discussing To Reach The Spring on Give and Take Podcast with Scott Jones, February 2, 2021
Nathaniel Popkin discussing To Reach The Spring on Life Else Where, February 6, 2021
Nathaniel Popkin discussing To Reach The Spring on In This Climate Podcast, Indiana University, February 18, 2021
Nathaniel Popkin discussing To Reach The Spring on Conscious Talk Radio, Seattle, USA, March 9, 2021
Nathaniel Popkin discussing To Reach The Spring on Wild Connection Podcast with Dr. Jennifer Verdolin, March 14, 2021