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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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Author or editor of nearly a dozen books about Thoreau, Harding knows Thoreau as completely as any modern writer can – and it shows. The reader feels like a Thoreau companion, like one of his friends who knew him well. Thoreau’s single-mindedness, whether about nature, John Brown, or the hypocrisy of organized religions, comes through clearly. Thoreau’s ability to explain nature in written and lecture form, whether to sophisticated adults or to children, was absolutely unique. I never thought I would end up caring so much about a man who led an often reclusive, often misanthropic life. Thoreau’s love of nature permeates the book and his intense devotion to the particulars of nature - the flower, the woodchuck, the seasons – is refreshing to the reader in the 21st century. His way of life may strike some readers as naïve but that may be our problem, not Thoreau’s.
Biographies can be great because of the research or the details or because of the author’s writing skill. This book has all those but something much more – a deeply sympathetic portrayal of a man (warts and all) that is so powerful that we feel for our loss, not just of Thoreau but of the natural world around us.
Harding shows us the playful Thoreau, who delighted children with captured frogs; the unheralded Thoreau, who helped his elderly neighbors salvage a crop of apples fallen into the yard; the petty Thoreau, complaining about tepid audience reception to his lectures; and the dying Thoreau, proving that his stoicism throughout 44 short years was not feigned.