Have you ever felt nature-deprived? What about sadly disconnected from the land you live on? If so, you might find some solace in this book. Of course, it's no substitute for making an actual trip out into the woods. And unless you come from the remote area of NJ called the Pine Barrens, it won't remind you of home or inspire nostalgia. What it will do, however, is grant you a short period of escape, and the fantasy of a different way of life. One where life and land are inseparable.— David W.
Most people think of New Jersey as a suburban-industrial corridor that runs between New York and Philadelphia. Yet in the low center of the state is a near wilderness, larger than most national parks, which has been known since the seventeenth century as the Pine Barrens.
The term refers to the predominant trees in the vast forests that cover the area and to the quality of the soils below, which are too sandy and acid to be good for farming. On all sides, however, developments of one kind or another have gradually moved in, so that now the central and integral forest is reduced to about a thousand square miles. Although New Jersey has the heaviest population density of any state, huge segments of the Pine Barrens remain uninhabited. The few people who dwell in the region, the "Pineys," are little known and often misunderstood. Here McPhee uses his uncanny skills as a journalist to explore the history of the region and describe the people—and their distinctive folklore—who call it home.
“An outstanding reading experience.” —Natural History
“Using his fine eye, great ear and good heart" (Newsday), McPhee "tells how this geographic anomaly has come to be, describes its people and their distinctive folklore, and captures something of the dreamlike quality of this incredibly quiet land in the midst of the noisy clutter of mechanical civilization.” —Kansas City Star
“It will be a long time before another book appears to equal the literary quality and human compassion of this one.” —The New York Times Book Review