I first became aware of Mr. Hempton when I complained to a mutual friend about my difficulties in making nature recordings without the intrusion of man-made noise. I was told of Hempton's ongoing frustration with the same issue. This has, in part, led to his establishment of One Square Inch (OSI) in Olympic National Park in Washington state. OSI establishes a single point free from the intrusion of man-made sound, which would affect approx. 1000 square miles.
His ongoing fight, focuses primarily on airplane overflight of the park, although he looks at other noise intrusions not only in national parks, but in other areas, cities, suburbs, and elsewhere. The book is a travelogue of his cross-country trip to Washington DC to plead his case to help protect OSI to the FAA and other government agencies. Along the way, he meets people affected by the encroachment of man-made noise into their lives, gathering their stories.
Early on, some of Hempton's remarks make him sound somewhat like a luddite crackpot, discussions of why park managements doesn't use horses instead of power tools and motorized vehicles to do park maintenance and so on. However, Hempton is no luddite, in fact, one might almost find some of his activities hypocritical, driving a noisy (by his own admission) VW microbus crosscountry and making frequent air flights mid-trip. He is not looking to eliminate all air traffic, just those over National Parks and other 'unspoiled' areas. One may make the argument that he is guilty of a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude, and I'm not sure that isn't entirely true. For me, one event that soured me on his crusade is when, while making a nature recording, it is ruined by a distant train. Instead of starting another "evils of intrusive man-made noise" rant, he shrugs it off because he has "a soft spot for trains".
Hempton's writing style is casual and readable, although he tends to overdescribe or include too much detail. In fact, he name drops his favorite brand of tea so often, I started to wonder if he was getting a promotional fee. He also makes sound level reading throughout his trip. I found it interesting and felt it helped to give specific examples of his observations, however, I think the average (non-audio geek)reader may find this tedious.
Overall, I found the account to be interesting, and while I primarily agree with his concerns, I felt some of his comments to be over the top.
If you have an interest in audio pollution, natural preservation or underdog vs. government fights, pick up a copy. I think you'll learn a lot, and be entertained.