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Reflections in Bullough's Pond: Economy and Ecosystem in New England (Revisiting New England) Paperback – October 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Physically the book is a little bigger than 6 by 9 inches. It runs 312 pages, of which around 40 pages are devoted to notes and about 15 pages to an index. The text is supported by several maps and a few graphs that are clear and easy to read, and several pictures that are a bit murky in reproduction.
I enjoyed reading "Reflections in Bullough's Pond. It is a history of the New England area from the arrival of Native Americans (although mostly just before the arrival of English colonists), concentrating not on wars and generals and presidents, but instead telling how ordinary people made a living, why they did what they did, and the consequences of their actions both to themselves and to the ecosystem. The pond in the title serves to tie the events of the past into consequences in the present.
Diana Muir writes well. She obviously researched her subject well, but knows the difference between including supportive or even fascinating details and browbeating the reader with them. An example of this is the fate of the beaver. While I vaguely knew before reading the book that beavers were largely exterminated to satisfy a whim of English fashion, I had no idea of the importance of wampum and the destabilization of the Native American culture by diseases imported by the Colonists. Nor did I understand the importance of the beaver in the New England ecosystem.
I had few quibbles with the book.Read more ›
Ms. Muir has interwoven fact with conjecture to create a probable eco-history of New England since the arrival of man. The conjecture is logically sound and has some evidentiary history. Early Americans, however, wrote no more history than early Africans or early Europeans; hence a degree of conjecture is necessary to flesh out game-theoretically sound propositions.
The begining thesis is that the forests of pre-human New England were ecologically sound. This is certainly a reasonable proposition which carries with it implications Ms. Muir details. From that point, Muir creates an eco-history showing how mankind, including the American Indian (or aboriginal American, if you prefer)has destroyed one of the largest air-sheds in the world. Muir discusses the way in which efforts to reforest the area have failed to duplicate natural ecology, and the implications of that failure. The implications have even more profound impact in the contempory Northwest, where I live and where deforestation is not complete, than in the Northeast.
Fortunately for the reader, Muir has written much more readably than I have here. She eschews jargon and labyrinthian technical explanations (in contrast with this sentence) to present a clear and convincing case.
I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
She breaks new ground in her treatment of the environment as both an economic resource and as a complex-often vulnerable-amalgam of ecosystems. Her thesis is that we are living on capital, be it fossil fuel, topsoil or forest-she is particularly compelling on the vulnerable biochemistry of these last. Unusually, however, Ms Muir is scrupulous in her use of statistics and fastidious in her argument. She never seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the economic impulse, though she does not flinch from her conclusion: an argument for restraint in economic activity and population.
Nor does she lose sight of the propensity of ecosystems to renew themselves, albeit often in new forms: she is pleased-almost amused-by the return of the beaver and the moose, while regretting the extinction of the elm and the emergence of local spruce monocultures. Indeed Ms Muir expresses herself more forcefully on the loss of flora than fauna. Perhaps this is because the long life cycles of the former make it harder to take an optimistic view of their capacity to renew themselves. Alternatively it may be because the collapse of agriculture in New England following the opening up of the West, has stimulated the return to southern New England of so many species formerly evicted to Canada.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nice period study of social and economic conditions, interesting buildup and conclusions.Published 9 months ago by Bob Purple
Beautifully written, but omits indentured servitude (a single reference to a single group of Scots in a single sentence) and slavery (barely mentioned).Published 10 months ago by teacher
I have shared fun facts that this book taught me with almost everyone I know over the past couple months. Read morePublished on June 20, 2014 by Terry MacDonald
Ms Muir is a great storyteller. I was interested in the topic and prepared to slog through boring text to learn something, but this was AMAZING. Read like a novel. Read morePublished on February 16, 2005 by C. Coonahan
Other reviewers have discussed the virtues of the book, so I will only add that the lessons to be learned from this well written and fascinating study are relevant to the entire... Read morePublished on January 24, 2003 by B. Yankee
Using a pond near her home in Newton, MA as a backdrop, Diana Muir weaves a compelling view of New England history, which she argues is a series of ecological crises. Read morePublished on October 30, 2002 by Craig L. Howe
This is one of the best books I have ever read- period! At the core of the book is Ms. Muir's message that we are part of nature, not separate from or above nature, and we have a... Read morePublished on August 1, 2002
It is hard to imagine how Reflections in Bullough's Pond could have been better written. Diana Muir gives an account of the interplay between New England's economic history and its... Read morePublished on July 25, 2002
This is a REALLY nice example of the possibilities that exist when an author weaves together multiple strands of thought in a comprehensive view of a topic or region. Read morePublished on July 21, 2002