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The Pine Barrens Paperback – May 1, 1978


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Contrary to popular opinion, the whole of New Jersey is not a continuous Superfund site enlivened solely by poorly labeled Turnpike exits and skanky diners. In fact, the largest essentially untouched wilderness east of the Mississippi comprises nearly half the state: the New Jersey Pine Barrens. This more than 1,000-square-mile region has only a few thousand inhabitants--the Pineys, whose way of life has remained essentially unchanged since the 17th century. McPhee--one of the finest American essayists of the 20th century--has written an extraordinarily compelling, informative, and insightful book about the botanical, cultural, hydrological, and historical peculiarities of this region. He also details the efforts to save it from the creeping urbanization of nearby Philadelphia and New York City. Very Highly Recommended.

Review

“An outstanding reading experience.”—Natural History
 
“Using his fine eye, great ear and good heart" (Newsday), McPhee "tells how this geographic anomaly has come to be, describes its people and their distinctive folklore, and captures something of the dreamlike quality of this incredibly quiet land in the midst of the noisy clutter of mechanical civilization.”
Kansas City Star
“It will be a long time before another book appears to equal the literary quality and human compassion of this one.”—The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 157 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (May 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374514429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374514426
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with The New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. The same year he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with FSG, and soon followed with The Headmaster (1966), Oranges (1967), The Pine Barrens (1968), A Roomful of Hovings and Other Profiles (collection, 1969), The Crofter and the Laird (1969), Levels of the Game (1970), Encounters with the Archdruid (1972), The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed (1973), The Curve of Binding Energy (1974), Pieces of the Frame (collection, 1975), and The Survival of the Bark Canoe (1975). Both Encounters with the Archdruid and The Curve of Binding Energy were nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of McPhee (I think the "Curve of Binding Energy" is his best work) and this is one of his absolute best. I lived in New Jersey for most of my life but was unaware of what the Pine Barrens had been. McPhee's description of the natural wonders of the place is compelling and I was utterly fascinated by his stories of the pre-colonial settlers there. After reading the book, I've taken the long drive down Route 202 to visit and it is an other-worldly place to this day. Just as he described it years earlier, I found myself swimming in crystal clear, deep burgundy spring water, turned red by the rich iron deposits in the soil.
Do yourself and favor and read this book.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I live out west now. I just returned to the east for a visit. I drove down to the NJ Pine Barrens and I camped out one night in the Plains (the dwarf forest), no doubt in violation of millions of New Jersey rules and regulations. The benign peacefulness of the place, the smell of the pines, the sound of the wind, all swept over me. I used to live in Manhattan. I'd often make the 2 1/2 or 3 hour drive to hike and canoe and camp in the Barrens. I love that magical forest, the dark bogs, the open plains, the pure rivers, the endless sandy roads. John McPhee's book truly captures the atmosphere of this very special place in the world.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on June 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Those of us from the Northeast know that wilderness can be found if you're willing to hit the road and search for it, and also that it's precious and worth protecting from the onslaught of industry and sprawl. But even those familiar with the region's wilderness offerings will be surprised by the natural bounty and remoteness of New Jersey's Pine Barrens area. The masterful essayist John McPhee published this travelogue and study of the area back in 1967, when the depths of the Pine Barrens still offered genuine seclusion form the outside world, with hardy folks still living off the land by picking berries or making charcoal. And this beautiful area was surrounded on all sides by the most urbanized and industrialized blight on Earth. Things aren't quite so rustic there anymore, but reading McPhee's engaging treatise on the area should make modern folks wish to both visit the Pine Barrens area as a valuable slice of nature, and to protect it as a precious and dwindling resource. That's what makes this short but lovable book from the great McPhee a timeless classic for nature lovers. [~doomsdayer520~]
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Weiss on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This amazing, still relevant book is the Main Selection for ONE BOOK NEW JERSEY- a state wide reading initiative that supports literacy and celebrates New Jersey's Libraries. John McPhee's elegant hand offers the whole world focused through the filter of the New Jersey Pine Barrens
** Check out all the details at [...]
  1999 Pulitzer Prize Winner and native New Jerseyan John McPhee spoke compellingly at the 'kick-off' press conference recently at the Princeton Public Library and mentioned that having the chance to revisit "The Pine Barrens" through the new statewide reading program has presented him with a rare opportunity. "One of the things in my work," he said, "is that you have to move on to the next thing. But I have a lot of nostolgia for the things I write about."
  In "The Pine Barrens," Mr. McPhee combines detailed descriptions of the region's culture, ecology and history with anecdotes gleaned from meeting its residents through his travels.
  Born and raised in Princeton and a professor at his alma mater, Princeton University, Mr. McPhee said the selection of his book is terrific. "I was really quite amazed that 40 years after I started in on it," it's still relevant, he said. "I'm glad it's alive."
  A friend from his days at Princeton High School suggested the Pine Barrens as a subject, Mr. McPhee said. "He said there are holes in the ground so deep there's no bottom and the people, they're dangerous and all that," Mr. McPhee recalled.
  The Pinelands, totaling 1.1 million acres and encompassing 22 percent of New Jersey's land area, is host to legends, myth and intrigue about its residents, sometimes referred to as the Pineys.
  Mr.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Martin Lewison on June 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I was growing up in New Jersey, people occasionally spoke of "The Pines", a mysterious forest to the south that was home to an asylum where escapees roamed and murdered unsuspecting travelers. McPhee not only explains the origins of this half-myth, he also divulges numerous other secrets about the the New Jersey pine barrens and their fascinating inhabitants, affectionately known as "Pineys." This remarkable and enormous wilderness area lies directly between New York and Philadelphia and, incredibly, remains undeveloped, but it's full of history and a wealth of extraordinary flora and fauna. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to New Jersey-ites and anyone else interested in unique natural places.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Moochie on April 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is not the kind of book I normally read but, since it is being promoted by the NJ Library Association and the NJ State Library as the One Book New Jersey selection for 2004, and I am a New Jersey librarian, I felt I ought to. Having said that, and having read the book, I must say that those librarians who lobbied for The Pine Barrens, certainly chose wisely. The book is utterly charming. Mr. McPhee's prose style is elegant in an unshowy way and thoroughly engaging. I felt as if I was gliding through the book and picking up the most interesting information about the Pine Barrens and its inhabitants along the way. I can't imagine anyone not liking this book.
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