J.B. Jackson (1909-1996), writer, teacher, and explorer, shared his delight in studying the ordinary aspects of the everyday landscape. Jackson graduated from Harvard in 1932 with a B.A. in History and Literature. After college, he spent several years motorcycling across Europe and eventually serving as an intelligence officer in WWII. In 1951, Jackson created 'Landscape', a magazine dedicated to the study of the vernacular landscape. He focused both on the U.S. as a region and on smaller regions such as the Spanish-American settlements of New Mexico. Jackson's poetic writings inspired many Americans to see the landscape with a new perspective.

During a long and distinguished career he brought about a new understanding and appreciation of the American landscape. Hailed in 1995 by New York Times architectural critic Herbert Muschamp as "America's greatest living writer on the forces that have shaped the land this nation occupies," Jackson founded Landscape Magazine in 1951, taught at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley, and wrote nearly 200 essays and reviews. This appealing anthology of his most important writings on the American landscape, illustrated with his own sketches and photographs, brings together Jackson's most famous essays, significant but less well known writings, and articles that were originally published unsigned or under various pseudonyms.Jackson founded himself not only in an outsider myth but developed also what Emerson called ‘self-culture,’ especially in the claim that his teaching was centred not in scholarship but only in self-experience.

As an editor, Jackson defied disciplinary boundaries. His magazine generated a constituency of architects, historians, geographers, folklorists, sociologists, city planners, journalists, and others. These readers and the authors that Jackson published did not share a methodology, but instead found common ground in a belief that insights into culture, history, and ideology could be reaped through close attention to the spaces constructed, used, and populated by everyday Americans. Jackson and his cohorts, whom geographer Jay Appleton dubbed the “landscape movement,” viewed the countryside as a palimpsest upon which layers of meaning had been inscribed throughout history.