As one may reach the crest of a mountain in what looks to be wilderness and see a city on the other side, so Thoreau in his rhapsody about the wild and free suddenly joins forces with the march of progress which will spread cities, railroads, mines, and military bases across his vision of the West. It may demonstrate the power of the jingoism of the time that even so obstinately independent a citizen as Thoreau falls under its sway. Halfway through the essay, the guide who has set out to show us the glory that is absolute wilderness is taking us on a tour of the marvels of progress, cultural and geographical. In fact, in the spirit of his time, he conflates the two in one tide of advancing civilization, one celebration of westerly ascent of European man in America. (109-10)

The United States of America has, ever since this strange upwelling of nationalistic optimism, been distinguished by its amnesia, its sense of prodigious destiny - its looking ever forward and never back - and its frenzied transformation of landscape into real estate. (111-12)

Savage Dreams (1994)
Rebecca Solnit