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Adirondack Explorer

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

May, 2015

Adirondack Outlaws
Author: Niki Kourofsky

Review by: Neal Burdick

Lives of crime Backcountry fastnesses—mountains, forests, canyons—have always been havens for those who take proper behavior with a (sometimes very large) grain of salt. Think the Wild Bunch (also known to moviegoers as the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang) or the Hatfields and McCoys. Closer to home, we have the likes of French Louie and Noah Rondeau, individualists who operated on the fringes of society and lived by their own code of conduct, although, by way of hometown defense, those two never killed anyone. Perhaps tipping our hats to an independent streak that goes back to Colonial times, we tend to make folk heroes out of these characters. But places like the Adirondacks have also harbored more >>More

January, 2015

The Legacy of Fort William Henry: Resurrecting the Past
Author: David R. Starbuck

Review by: Philip Terrie

History meets tourism Adirondack historians, including me, have given short shrift to the story of Native Americans in our part of New York. We have all paid too much attention to the generally shared assumption that the Adirondack region was used only seasonally by Indians who thus had no permanently established towns or villages here. The surrounding river valleys were indeed more hospitable in the winter than the higher elevations in the Adirondacks, but that doesn’t mean that Indians didn’t know this region, use it, and have a variety of important connections with it. One of the chief sources of >>More

May, 2014

A picturesque past
Author: Neil Surprenant

Review by: Kirk Peterson

  IT HAS BEEN SAID that we are all residents of the same country called the past. No place values its past more than Saranac Lake, and Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America: Saranac Lake will be warmly welcomed here. Authored by Neil Surprenant, director of the Joan Weill Adirondack Library at Paul Smith’s College, and drawing on several hundred photos from the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library, the book brings our old community back to life. The book is organized into thematic chapters picturing the village in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. “Making a Living,” the first >>More

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