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Ceremonial Time: Fifteen Thousand Years on One Square Mile First Edition Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0201149371
ISBN-10: 0201149370
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Astonishing immediacy . . . as though Sherlock Holmes had set out to verify Grey’s musings in his country churchyard. . . . An unqualified success . . . I can think of no book that provides so personal and yet so comprehensive a view of America, past, present, and potentially, future.”—New York Times Book Review
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

JOHN HANSON MITCHELL, winner of the 1994 John Burroughs Essay Award, is the author of numerous books. Ceremonial Time is the first in a series of titles in the Scratch Flat Chronicles. His newest book is An Eden of Sorts: A Natural History of My Feral Garden. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; First Edition edition (March 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201149370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201149371
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Corinne H. Smith VINE VOICE on July 2, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mitchell goes far beyond "reading the landscape" of his town. He analyzes the history, anthropology, architecture, agriculture, geology, botany, and zoology of an area northwest of Littleton, Massachusetts, called "Scratch Flat." As if that's not enough, he goes one step further by investigating and uncovering the ancestral *spirit* of the place. This book is an easy, enlightening read that will not only have you looking differently at your own neighborhood but also contemplating our traditional notions of time. "[W]e are the future of the past, and the past of the future." (p. 200) Certainly food for thought.
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Format: Paperback
How much do you want to believe? It's up to you. If you have no interest in Indian folk stories, spirits, ghosts, paranormal encounters and fantasy, then pass this book on by. If you want to walk into the woods and fall under the enchantment of the spirits and critters that dwell there, present and past, then this is the book for you. Have you ever walked alone in the woods, and had a feeling that something else was there? What was it? That is the topic of this book.

There is another level of this book that works so well for me, and that is the author's keen interest in other people's stories. He does this in his other books as well, in that he observes and talks to everyone and anyone, with a genuine interest in their lives. We could learn a lesson here....most people have an interesting story to tell, if we search for it. If we just lose interest in ourselves for a bit, if we learn to see other people as potential friends, we could enrich our lives. I find this refreshing in our era of self-indulgent memoirs.

And that grey-haired gentleman over there in the woods, clearly not sticking to the path...the one crouching down examining something on the ground or making snorting monkey sounds? The one staring up at the trees, imitating the bird songs? Who is that? Well, it's John Hanson Mitchell. And he's willing to talk to you, and share his find.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of my favorite books of all time! Mitchell's curiosity about the history of his land is infectious, leading to journeys in several investigative paths, to shine light on past New England. His prose is gorgeous in itself, and he makes you feel the beauty of his garden, hear the stillness of the meadow, and makes the hair stand on end when he feels a familiar invisible presence again and again. I had him speak at our library, introducing the work to many others, all of whom were equally intrigued.
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Format: Paperback
OK, here's how good this book is -- I bought it and read it, then lost it. So I bought it *again.* It's a lovely book about the ancestry of a piece of land. The writing compares well with Annie Dillard's. Yep, that good.
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Format: Paperback
This book isn't quite like any other that I've read. It's one of my favorites, if only because I came across an original edition long ago at a used-book sale and bought it because it's about my home turf. It turned out to be one of the best dollars I've ever spent. I picked it up from the pile a few months later, and only then discovered what a gem it is.

The concept is brilliant: Tracing one place from the glaciers to suburbia. It's not only rare for anyone to have such great curiosity to do the research that went into this. It's even rarer to have the writing ability to turn all those facts into a compelling narrative that brings it alive by encompassing range of the author's vision and humanizing it at the same time.

This book made me
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have lifted whole lecture topics from this book, and passed on copies to numerous students and friends. The idea is lovely -write an ecology based on an intimate history of one square mile of land-and Mitchell delivers it up in excellent prose that keeps one reading even when the material turns a tad dry. Why only 4 stars? I am not sure if this book will have "legs" beyond the landscape and history that it celebrates. It would be great to have a few more Mitchells do something similar to the westward and southward, so that we could expand our perceptions beyond the deliberate confines that the author has set. For those of us within a day's drive however, this is definitely a book to read.
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By A Customer on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Like Thoreau, Mitchell has travelled widely by walking within a short distance of home. Many of us are able to walk, few are able to see as acutely or reflect as profoundly on what we have seen. This book is not merely a pleasure to read, it lingers in the mind long after the final page.
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Format: Paperback
This is a phenomenal book. It might not appeal to someone wanting fictional structure, plot-lines, or the like. It's a sort of journey through time courtesy of the great writing of John Hanson Mitchell. I stumbled upon this book in a library the year it came out. I couldn't put it down. It changed my life, led me to intensive journal writing, researching the history of places I lived, and now, after having published seven books, I still return to it for inspiration. It is like a friend to me. My books, mostly are not related to the peaceful and natural views of Mitchell, but he inspired me nevertheless. I believe my thousands of handwritten pages of journals (which are now looking for a permanent home) are part testament to this book's power to inspire the writer in me. It is a book that awakened an anthropological sort of explorer in me, exploring that took me to strange indian mounds, automobile drives through tornadoes, and the reading of hundreds of books about native Americans, nature, and the spirit of the forest. Take a weekend and submerge yourself in this near poetic narrative about "Scratch Flat."
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