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The Days of Henry Thoreau: A Biography Paperback – November 10, 2011

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"[T]he best biography we have had."--Carl Bode, The New York Times Book Review

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 2nd edition (December 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486242633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486242637
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Zhivago on December 3, 2000
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If you like the writings of Thoreau, you will love this biography. Thoreau really comes to life and Walter Harding does a great job at aquainting us with Thoreau as if he were our neighbor or close friend. You will love all the stories of his childhood, his many excursions and his never ending desire for knowledge of nature. Also, at the end Harding dicusses Thoreaus's sexuality, which for me was a burning question throughout the book. There is no better biography out there written on Thoreau.
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Format: Paperback
Walter Harding's biography of Henry David Thoreau is easily the most readable and thorough of the many accounts of his life. It represents an ideal blend of description and narrative with solid scholarship. Harding clearly explains what is known and how it is known, drawing from an extremely broad familiarity with the literature and with the many sources of information about Thoreau's life. He does not shy away from presenting the wide range of opinions about Thoreau, ranging from ridicule to idolization, but puts these opinions into context. He draws heavily upon Thoreau's own journals and writings in order to inject as much storytelling into the biography as possible, so that it never reads as if it were merely a dry work of scholarship. I found this to be a quite gripping read -- and finished it in just over a week, which happened to be a very busy week, during which I was always eager to return to it when I had a spare moment. As a result I have a very vivid portrait in my mind of Thoreau the man. Harding's book would be an excellent complement to Richardson's Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind. While Richardson's book focuses on the development of Thoreau as a thinker and a writer, Harding focuses on his development as a man. Both are highly recommended.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By STEPHEN T. McCARTHY on September 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
'THE DAYS OF HENRY THOREAU' by Walter Harding is as fine a biography as I have ever read.

On August 8, 1984 - my twenty-fifth birthday - my very good friend, Marty Brumer, gave me the tome, 'WORKS OF HENRY DAVID THOREAU'. I had no way of knowing at the time that Thoreau would become one of my very favorite writers, nor that Marty (just beginning to establish a career as an actor in Hollywood) would be killed 5 years later when a man in a stolen car, trying to elude the police, would run a red light at high speed and collide with my friend's Volvo in the intersection. In a way, Marty still lives through my interest in Thoreau, which he played a significant role in establishing.

In the Introduction to my copy of Thoreau's collected works, editor Lily Owens writes, "Thoreau was not a naturally political man. He was essentially an individualist and moralist. What he wanted most from government (and from most people) was to be left alone. Thus, few can embrace his philosophy whole." I'm hardly a naturalist; my interest in Thoreau originates from his wry observations about human nature, his passion for self-reliance, his Transcendentalist ideals & ethics, and his "plea that each follow his own inner light." And because there is so much "Thoreau" in me, I probably come as close as one can to embracing "his philosophy whole."

I acquired Walter Harding's, 'THE DAYS OF HENRY THOREAU' in preparation for my Summer vacation (from which I've just returned) that took me to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the country's birthplace) and Concord, Massachusetts (site of "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" - the first battle for American self-determination, and Thoreau's beloved hometown with its Walden Pond, the body of water he made so famous).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kirk McElhearn VINE VOICE on March 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is probably the best biography of Henry David Thoreau, the most individual of American essayists. Walter Harding is one of those academics who not only knows his subject backwards and forward, but treats him with reverence. Yet this is not a mere hagiography. Thoreau's life is put into the context of the mid-19th century, and the reader develops a much greater understanding of why Thoreau wrote what he did, who he was, and why he became such an important American voice.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jon K. on September 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book looks at Thoreau's life in depth. The first few chapters try to show how Thoreaus young life shaped his older years. Always complicated both in his young and old years. This book also gives great details of Thoreaus many excursions, and the many people with whom he graced with his presence. If you in interested in Thoreau, it would be in your best interest to buy this book, it's the link between his life and his work.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've alway's been in the habit of reading about the life of an author before acually reading his works and this book has covered all the bases of an incredibly intelligent man. His prose of description was in depth, and at the same time it showed views of alot of his friends in a town full of intellects. It makes you feel like you were there living Concord enjoying the scenes on Walden with thoughts from a perspective that the average person would not usually pull from any kind of methodical observation.
I would read this book again and again for a distinctive and magnanimous outlook from one the most notable Thoreau scholars.
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