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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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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
Each authentic and real person that McKibben joins on his trek lends a hand in telling the story. The book is as much about the beauty of the people as it is of the land. I grew up twenty miles away from the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, and presently I am a steward and guardian of 400 acres of land in central PA with my husband, his uncle, and my husband's brother and I share and appreciate Bill McKibben's deep love for the power of nature, the wild, and the people. I found John Davis (owns a bicycle, no car) as one of the most interesting characters in the book. I also like the stories of Chris Shaw, who has the good sense of memorializing the people who have passed on but that once lived in the Adirondacks and give the book historical authenticity. My favorite stories in the book are from Donald Armstrong and especially Armstrong's memory he shares with McKibben (and us) about Don's wife, Velda and a fly-fishing event. I laughed so hard I cried! It is a funny moment, but this husband-wife story is so cute and sweet, and gives one a feeling of nostalgia. (The church steeple is a cool part, too.) This is a gem of a story and Wandering Home is a gem of a book.
I am a people person and for the first few chapters of Wandering Home I'm thinking that it is too bad Bill McKibben spends all this passion on the Adirondacks. I imagine what his passion could do to improve the lives of the infirm or impoverished people. Much to my chagrin, in the last few chapters McKibben admits this deficit with charm and honesty. He admits he should spend more time helping the less fortunate, and then justifies his love and preservation of the Adirondacks as his way of giving something back to people. And, I agree that he has. Furthermore, he explains that he tries not to be a drain on the planet. If only we could all think this way, maybe our global warming and environmental problems would vanish. For the first time in my life, I realize the full extent of the impact that people have had and still have on our surroundings and I am saddened and sickened by it. (I imagine a sunrise or a sunset over a mountain, or an ocean breeze I thank God there are still a few areas left in this world that man / woman hasn't been able to get his / her hands on.)
I do have one eco-criticism of Wandering Home. Bill writes that he and John Davis climb to the top of Owl's Head on page 93 of his book. Owl's Head is a considerable distance away from Bristol, and is not included in the path outlined on the inside covers of his book. But, every author has to create mystery in some way, right? Judging by the description of Owl's Head I can see why McKibben would include it in his "walk" since Owl's Head sounds like a stunning place with it's 390 degree view of the Adirondack mountains. On my map, Owl's Head is about sixty miles north of Lake Placid one way, as the crow flies.
Dr. Robert Bernard Hass (English Professor, poet, writer, and Robert Frost expert at Edinboro University) and I got into a discussion about hyper-individualism in class one day. Dr. Hass told me about his friend named Bill McKibben and how McKibben writes about hyper-individualism and that a good place to start on the subject would be Wandering Home. I am grateful that Hass recommended the book to me. It was a book that I was sad to see end, but a journey I will always remember in more ways than one. I was so inspired that I am planning on a short family vacation to the Adirondacks for this summer. I will do my best to demonstrate a sense of forest preservation and protection while I'm there, visiting the wild of the Adirondacks.