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Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks (Crown Journeys) Hardcover – April 12, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Crown Journeys
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609610732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609610732
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this latest addition to the Crown Journeys series, McKibben, the author of bestseller The End of Nature, writes with his usual wry, approachable power about the Adirondacks, his chosen home. While hiking from Vermont's Mt. Abraham to the wilder forests in New York, McKibben stops in at various ecologically-minded business concerns, including an organic winery and a prototype small college garden. He is accompanied by a who's who of environmentalists, including the president of Greenpeace, USA, and a founder of the revolutionary Earth First! Journal. Because of his longtime friendships with his fellow hikers, McKibben is able to capture them at their best, speaking with great knowledge and love for nature. But none is more eloquent than McKibben, who writes, "It's a quiet day, nothing spectacular except the mushrooms sprouting obscenely in this wet summer, but quietly grand, just like this country ... it's the impressions that linger with me, the sense of the woods as a whole-the relief, the density, the changing feel underfoot and overheard." Here is a nature writer who can consider all sides of an argument and happily end up uncertain of the precise solution, but sure of his nearly evangelical passion for the mountains he calls home. This book could single-handedly spur a rush of tourism to the Adirondack area-it's that good.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As McKibben hikes across the land he loves, setting out from tidy Vermont and heading into the wilds of New York's Adirondack Mountains, he rhapsodizes about gorgeous mountain vistas, pristine lakes, and deep woods. It's a boon to find the author of eight cutting-edge books about grave environmental concerns, including The End of Nature (1989) and Enough (2003), in a hopeful state of mind, especially since McKibben, charmingly self-deprecating and funny, isn't only communing with nature but also visiting individuals committed to living "green," including organic farmers, a vintner, a beekeeper, environmental studies students, wildlands philanthropy promoter John Davis, and writer Don Mitchell. Thanks to their efforts, this once hard-used land is now restored and rebounding. As McKibben considers nature's "lessons in flux and resiliency," he also reflects on the evolution of environmental thought and his own eco-awakening, ultimately positing the possibility of our forgoing "hyperindividualism" and unbridled materialism to achieve a balance between the wild and the cultivated, and a sense of community that embraces the entire web of life. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
Nevertheless, I liked this book and enjoyed reading it.
Stephen Schwartz
They both offer some of the most beautiful, pastoral scenery in the US.
Brad VanAuken
After reading this slim book I felt like I'd gone hiking with McKibben.
David Schiff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Paula L. Craig on October 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bill McKibben is a thoughtful writer. Most of all, this book made me wish I could take a hike with him and meet the land he loves so much. Be warned that this book might make you homesick, even if you've never been to Vermont or the Adirondacks. But beyond that, the book has some serious points to make.

I'm a suburbanite trapped in the cycle of debt that has sucked in so many Americans (in my case, student loans and a mortgage). I work for the Department of Commerce. I have a husband. I have a child who is addicted to video games. I don't have the money or the freedom to move to the Adirondacks, or even take a trip there. This book is a reminder that Americans don't have to live the way we do. We might very well be happier if we got rid of a lot of our stuff and lived more lightly on the land. Of course, McKibben punctures that little bubble by pointing out that a lot of people have tried to do that in Vermont, with laughable results.

I believe that once the cheap oil is gone, life in America is going to be very different. Ordinary American life today puts so much emphasis on getting places quickly. In the not-so-distant future we're going to be staying much more in one spot, and only rarely going anywhere we can't reach on foot or bicycle. This book is a reminder that such a stationary life might not be so bad. There's more to a meaningful and happy existence than what cheap gasoline and Wal-Mart can bring. Maybe someday the science of economics will remember that.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Silow-Carroll on July 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Wandering Home" compares favorably with John McPhee's "The Pine Barrens" in its scope and depth. Wonderful evocation of landscape, of people, and the stakes in the environmental debate. I spent summers on Lake Champlain as a kid and know the pull the region has on a person, as McKibben evokes so wonderfully well.

But there is also something smug about his love of the place -- reminiscent of the way writer Michael Lewis got in trouble for a rhapsodic essay about his model wife's lovely behind. McKibben has his houses on the Vermont and New York sides, a way to pay for them both, and all this untrammelled wilderness as his backyard. How many of the rest of us could hope to duplicate his lifestyle, his access to nature, the benefits he accrues from wilderness? The Adirondacks are a land of natural plenty, for sure, but also a region of scarcity -- scarce housing,scarce jobs, and severe (and essential) limits on development. McKibben comes off as the last guy to get into the club before the door was closed --and then calls you to boast about how great it is inside.

I'm not sure what the rest of us can take away from this, despite our envy and an intense desire to return to the place for a visit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brad VanAuken on June 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have spent much of my recreational time in the two places Bill McKibben writes about in this book -- The Adirondacks of New York and the Champlain Valley of Vermont. They both offer some of the most beautiful, pastoral scenery in the US. From Lake Champlain itself you can see the Green Mountains of Vermont on one side and the Adirondack Mountains of New York on the other. As Mr. KcKibben points out, while they may look similar and proximate from afar, each is quite different from the other. The Champlain Valley is more pastoral, bucolic and New England-like. The Adirondacks are much more rugged, wilderness-like and rough around the edges. Both can call to you in a way that becomes a lifetime's pursuit.

This book is an easy and short read. It is engaging, paints wonderful pictures with words and gets you to think about the tension between a simpler life closer to the natural world and modern society and progress/development. He is fair in his assessment of the joys and the struggles associated with a simpler life closer to nature. I don't know who would enjoy this book more - the person who has enjoyed this simpler life or one who can only imagine it through books like this one. I highly recommend this book for people who love this part of the world or who have thought about getting closer to the land and living a simpler life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Philip J. Wilkinson on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Bill McKibben describes a walk through place and community. The community is bound by a geographic region but the displaced reader is imperceptibly drawn into the mind-set of McKibben and his guests. You are introduced to a group who love the land on the Vermont/New York border and recognise it as one of the few "wild" places left in America. It is their passion to preserve and conserve that comes through and it is infectious. The book inspires the reader to analyse their relationship to place and modes of behaviour driven by place. The antithesis of economic consumption exists in all of us, however repressed. Bill brings it to the fore. The effect on the distant reader is such that you will join the community despite being so far way. Bravo Bill !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Schwartz on April 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is thin. I mean literally. It is really just a somewhat longish essay. I was disappointed that there was not more depth, more history, more "more."

This is the story of McKibben's amble from Vermont to the central Adirondacks, with a crossing by row boat of Lake Champlain. McKibben is a good writer and he loves this landscape and is very concerned about it and its place in the global environment, but I could not help comparing him and this book to another Bill-namely Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. Bryson is a much more energetic writer. In my opinion, he is funnier and deeper than McKibben. A Walk in the Woods is a great book, Wandering Home is light weight by comparison.

McKibben has some very good thoughts on environmental issues and expresses an admirable moderation in this book. He is especially sensitive to the complexity of many environmental issues and actively criticizes the "knee-jerk" environmentalists for over-simplifying the issues in many cases. On the other hand, McKibben is something of a romantic airhead. Often his ruminations are fatuous and patronizing; for example, his dogma that those simple Vermont farmers and old Adirondack loggers that he's met are more "authentic" than you or I (McKibben makes this claim more than once in Wandering Home).

Nevertheless, I liked this book and enjoyed reading it. McKibben loves the Adirondacks and so do I. In this short book he's managed to capture something of the flavor of the hidden Adirondacks, that fortunately so few people know. The Adirondack Park of New York is the most beautiful sylvan landscape in the world. McKibben's book raises, but barely starts to answer, such questions as why and how to protect and preserve the Adirondacks and other similarly blessed places.
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More About the Author

Bill McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, Deep Economy, and numerous other books. He is the founder of the environmental organizations Step It Up and 350.org, and was among the first to warn of the dangers of global warming. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and lives in Vermont with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and their daughter.

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