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Adirondack Explorer

January, 2018

Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian
Author: Philip Terrie

Review by: Neal Burdick

  I first met Phil Terrie many years ago, when he invited me to his cabin on Long Lake, partway down from Long Lake village toward the outlet. At the time, he was acting as a consultant for a Mountain Lake PBS documentary on Adirondack history, so producers, cameramen, and so on were hovering around. In the midst of all that, word came that a hiker was missing. Rangers and volunteers appeared, and he began helping them get the lay of the land to the southeast in the vicinity of Kempshall Mountain and to northeast up the Cold River valley >>More


November, 2017

Blacks in the Adirondacks: A History
Author: Sally Svenson

Review by: Philip Terrie

The history of the Adirondacks, as it’s usually presented, is blindingly white. Nearly all of our stories—logging, tourism, the Saranac Lake TB nexus, you name it—have familiar iterations, and they seem to involve only white people. Reading, or hearing, these often-repeated narratives, you might wonder if an African-American ever crossed the Blue Line. Sally Svenson asked herself that very question and set off on a quest through a mountain of primary materials—census and church records, every New York newspaper she could find, a few rare diaries, and a host of other obscure but essential sources—and has produced an invaluable corrective >>More


June, 2017

Escape from Dannemora
Author: Michael Benson

Review by: Brian Mann

In the summer of 2015, while driving my beat-up Toyota truck through the back roads of northern Clinton and Franklin counties documenting the Great Dannemora Prison Break, I kept thinking that I had been swallowed whole by a tabloid news story, or maybe a trashy pulp novel, that refused to end. The setting was the rainy, gloomy Gothic woods of the northern Adirondack foothills. The characters all seemed to come straight from central casting. There were the two brutal killers, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who had pulled off an escape that instantly drew comparisons with the film The Shawshank Redemption, >>More


April, 2017

Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering
Author: Maurice Isserman

Review by: Phil Brown

In 1642, Darby Field, a resident of what is now New Hampshire, climbed White Hill, known by local Indians as Agiocochook and by moderns as Mount Washington, the highest mountain in New England. Others in the Massachusetts Bay Colony thought Field daft for climbing a mountain. It just wasn’t something people did. “Following his death in 1649, it was remarked that his was a life of ‘merriness marred by insanity,’” writes Maurice Isserman in Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering, a scholarly work that covers the exploits of mountain climbers from Field’s unusual adventure on Agiocochook to an American >>More


March, 2017

Murder in the Adirondacks
Author: Craig Brandon

Review by: Betsy Kepes

Infamous murder revisited By Betsy Kepes It’s been over one hundred years since a search party found Grace Brown’s body in the bottom of Big Moose Lake, an overturned rowboat floating nearby. In 1906 the face of the man who walked away from that remote bay would become familiar to many Americans as he sat slouched in a chair at his murder trial in Herkimer. The local and national press wrote front-page stories about Chester Gillette, the handsome young man who murdered his pregnant girlfriend so he could rise up the social ladder. Craig Brandon has a section in the >>More


March, 2017

The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Town of Chester
Author: Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman

Review by: Amy Godine

The right side of history By Amy Godine The publication of a new book about the Underground Railroad in the Adirondacks, focusing on its supporters and their good work in the Town of Chester in Warren County, rides a high wave of public interest in this dramatic chapter of our history. No bookstore lacks a full-frontal display of Colson Whitehead’s explosive novel The Underground Railroad, with Oprah’s golden imprimatur on the front jacket. Regional scholarship is booming: in just the last decade, books and articles have documented Underground Railroad activity in Indiana, Buffalo, Detroit, Vermont, New York City, Pennsylvania, and >>More


March, 2017

We Were There: World War II Stories from the Adirondacks’ Greatest Generation
Author: Daniel Way

Review by: Neal Burdick

If you’re looking for a book that showcases the beauty, the tranquility, the recreational opportunities to be found in the Adirondacks, don’t get this one. But if you want unvarnished stories from some of the region’s most remarkable, if often nearly anonymous, older citizens, it’s for you. In We Were There: World War II Stories from the Adirondacks’ Greatest Generation, Dr. Daniel Way, a family-care physician with the Hudson Headwaters Health Network, which serves much of the Adirondacks, has assembled the riveting memories of eighteen of his patients, all survivors of World War II. We become acquainted with sixteen men >>More


March, 2016

Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism
Author: Mark Stoll

Review by: Philip Terrie

Saving God’s creation Book Review by Philip Terrie In 1967, Science published an article destined to be one of the most controversial and most frequently cited ever to appear in that distinguished journal: “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” The author, Lynn White Jr., was a medieval historian, a professor at UCLA. He argued that the devastating and unsustainable exploitation of nature that began with the Industrial Revolution had its intellectual roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition, especially in the creation story in the book of Genesis. White saw the patriarchal, exploitative, frequently abusive treatment of the natural world that >>More


November, 2015

Celebrating our parks
Author: Ian Shive

Review by: Philip Terrie

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation creating Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first effort to set aside a large undeveloped tract, protect it solely for its scenic and natural appeal, and make it available to the public. Exactly what Grant and the Congress had in mind for Yellowstone was unclear, as was whose responsibility it was to take care of it. For several decades, protecting the natural splendors found there was assigned to the United States Army, which for the most part had other obligations it considered more pressing. It wasn’t until 1916, after complaints from >>More


July, 2015

Philosophers at Follensby
Author: Stephen L. Dyson / James Schlett

Review by: Philip Terrie

Few incidents in nineteenth-century Adirondack history have been more often recounted than the famous Philosophers’ Camp at Follensby Pond. The story of how Ralph Waldo Emerson and an assortment of VIPs from the Concord-Cambridge axis camped for several weeks in 1858 on the shores of a virtually untouched lake deep in the wilderness has become a familiar chestnut in the Adirondack canon. Curiously, it has been largely ignored by scholars. Emerson is the subject of more academic studies than you can count. His first book, Nature (1836), is among the most analyzed, anthologized, and cited works in American literature and >>More


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