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The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe Paperback – March 1, 2004


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The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe + Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage + 365 Starry Nights : An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802776906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802776907
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Raymo (An Intimate Look at the Night Sky), a physicist at Stonehill College, agrees with Walt Whitman that "there is a sense in which the least thing contains the all." The least things in Raymo's universe occur on a one-mile path he has walked every day for 37 years between his home and his office in North Easton, Mass. Along this path that he knows so well, he writes, "every pebble and wildflower has a story to tell"-geological stories, environmental stories, human stories. Raymo uses each ecologically distinct portion of his path as a starting point for one of those tales. He is at his best when he relates the tale of the path itself, how it was constructed by the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as part of an estate for the great-grandson of shovel magnate Oliver Ames. The beginning of the path at the end of a suburban street provides the opportunity to discuss the origin of the village of North Easton at the close of the 18th century: the small Queset Brook supplying the power needed to run the factory that would dominate the village for a century and a half. As the path meanders from woods to open fields, from gardens to water meadow, Raymo discusses ecological relationships, the nature of DNA, basic geology and contemporary environmental concerns. Although always interesting , Raymo's stories are less compelling and more superficial the further afield he goes. But this slim, lovingly written volume helps readers become more observant of the natural portions of their world. 8 b&w illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Scientific American

"For thirty-seven years I have walked the same path back and forth each day from my home in the village of North Easton, Massachusetts, to my place of work, Stonehill College. The path takes me along a street of century-old houses, through woods and fields, across a stream, along a water meadow, and through an old orchard and community gardens." Raymo, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at Stonehill College and a science writer at the Boston Globe, walks with an observant eye and a ruminative mind. The stream, which in the 19th century powered the machines of the Ames Shovel Company, leads him into a discussion of gravity. Similarly prompted by what he sees, Raymo discusses engagingly such topics as photosynthesis, geology and evolution. The path so intimately familiar to him runs for barely more than a mile, "but the territory it traverses is as big as the universe."

Editors of Scientific American --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

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Everybody should read this book.
Smart Shopper
The book itself was good-- a lesson in how marvelous things are all around us, even in the most familiar paths.
frumiousb
Mr. Raymo takes a very unique perspective on a seemingly mundane topic - his daily commute.
C. Mclemore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Path is exactly what the title says it is, a one-mile walk which lends Raymo the small details of life and the world (monarch butterflies, a minor brook, blooming loosestrife) so that he may expand on them to larger, grander issues: the birth of the universe and our world, global warming, the impact of technology, etc. Both the stroll and the read are "pleasant" --short little jaunts that will seem at least somewhat familiar to many, especially those who would tend toward a book of this sort especially. The mini-essays on these larger issues dip in and out, offering the reader just enough information to keep them interested and while sometimes the brevity seems perfect, at others it comes across as a bit superficial. Raymo keeps the book grounded in the literalness of his walk and also in the local history, which though certainly less important and obviously more proscribed than the universe as a whole, at times is actually more interesting. Overall, Raymo keeps a nice balance on the three-legged stool of his physical walk along the path, his historical walk through the village's past, and his rational stroll through the science of nitrogen-fixing and star formation. Overlaying all three, permeating the entire work, is a spirituality that is warm, familiar, conversational, rarely didactic, often passionate, and always sincere. While the book was interesting and well-written throughout, I thought the writing ticked up in the last quarter or so to a more poetic, lyric style that was a true pleasure to read. Overall, the book is a good intro to the topics, its local history nicely balances the grander view, and if it reads a bit superficially or disjointed at times, those flaws don't outweigh the positives. It isn't a great book by any stretch, nor does it aspire to it. It is just as it's advertised, a pleasant stroll that now and then catches you by surprise in a moment of joyful appreciation. Recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Mclemore on May 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Raymo takes a very unique perspective on a seemingly mundane topic - his daily commute. He takes the idea of stopping to smell the roses to a whole new level. Every day for over 30 years he has taken the same mile-long walk to his office. This book takes none of that walk for granted as Mr. Raymo examines every step of the way with fascinating detail. He explores the history of the city, the background of the path, and gives insightful, yet easily readable, scientific explanations of the wonders of the world that surrounds him.
At times the book feels disjointed. After all, the only glue that holds this work together is the mile-long path through nature. However, the patchwork writing allows Mr. Raymo to explore his world - a world he happily gives to the reader. I recommend this book; you'll never view your commute the same.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jerome on July 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For 37 years now Mr Reymo is walking the same one-mile path between his house in North Easton, near Boston, and his workplace, the Stonehill College, back and forth, nearly everyday. And he uses precisely this short path as starting point to his exploration of the miracles of Nature.

First he emphasizes on things he notices along his way (like the river, the forest, the rocky ground, animals, fossils, and so on) to make you aware of the all-abounding, but often overlooked, wonders that surround you. And then he gives scientific, but very readable, explanations of why these things are they way they are or where they came from. His elaborations cover multiple themes like biology, botany, astronomy and anthropology. To only name a few.

But what makes this book so intriguing is especially the fact that he focuses on little, simple, everyday things and then shows how they fit in the greater frame. It makes you curious and want to just start exploring your own backyard. And you will definitely see it with other eyes!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jason Drew on August 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
At the end of the last chapter (before the epilogue) Raymo writes that the "ideal of humans living in harmony with tamed nature ... is a sturdy old myth, and in it we might still hope to combine the Enlightenment, with its confidence in the power of the human mind to make sense of the world, and romanticism, with its belief that all of life is a miracle."

That neatly sums up the main themes of this book, that describes the author's daily walk through the woods to work. The author wanders the path and all the thoughts and associations it provokes, seeking both ends: to make sense of the world, and to celebrate that life is a miracle.

The book does indeed wander. Under T in the index (unusual to find such a good index in a small book), for example, you can find Tao (Way); Technology; Thales of Miletus; Third World; Thoreau, Henry David; Thousand-monkey metaphor; Tibetan Plateau; Timber, harvesting; ...

In part they are connected by Raymo's story of how everything _is_ connected, and how in the particular we can find the universal. That is what he shows as he wanders the path from start to end. He starts with the particular - the names of streets, local history - and ranges in his genial, learned way - through the amazing journey of monarch butterflies, the DNA that shapes and is shaped by life - to the universal - the laws of nature, the mystery that so much is explicable, yet not entirely.

That is where the story touches on its deeper themes. Though he quotes Oscar Wilde, that "the true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible," he warns that "our senses are dulled by the tedium of the commonplace" and tries to remind us, and show us, vividly "that the ordinary is not ordinary at all, that the commonplace is miraculous."

Then The Path is at its best (and best read, not reviewed).
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