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Adirondack Explorer

September, 2010

Up on a Hill and Thereabouts
Author: Gloria Stubing Rist

Review by: Betsy Kepes

DURING THE DEPRESSION, how did a single mom with two kids support herself in a rural Adirondack community? From the distance of over seventy years, Gloria Stubing Rist recalls her mother as an entrepreneur who built a shack of salvaged lumber and created the Top of the Hill dance hall. “Mim” planned to sell coffee, cigarettes, and home brew to men working on the state road to Schroon Lake from Ticonderoga. But the start of the roadwork was delayed. Mim didn’t say anything to us kids, but young as I was, I realized we were in big trouble. There we >>More


September, 2010

The Nature of New York An Environmental History of the Empire State
Author: David Stradling

Review by: Philip Terrie

TOO OFTEN we think about the history of the Adirondacks without considering its context. We know something about the dramatic events of the 1880s and 1890s—including the establishment of the Forest Preserve and Adirondack Park and the constitutional protection of the Forest Preserve— and we recall the equally important creation of the Adirondack Park Agency and the tortured story of the Private Land Use and Development Plan. But do we grasp the relationship between the Adirondacks and the state’s urban and commercial centers, especially, of course, with the megalopolis at the mouth of the Hudson River? The resources of the >>More


March, 2010

Noah John Rondeau’s Adirondack Wilderness Days
Author: William J. O’Hern

Review by: Betsy Kepes

IN 1946, THE ADIRONDACK HERMIT Noah John Rondeau wrote entries in his annual journal in a complicated code. Fifty years later, a recent college graduate, David Greene, deciphered the symbols. Rondeau was fond of nicknames, and some of the journal entries didn’t make any sense until Richard Smith, an old friend of Rondeau’s, helped interpret the cryptic remarks. Next it was William O’Hern’s turn to put the decoded information into a book. The back cover of this latest book about the famous hermit hints that secrets are to be found inside the mysterious journal, but readers who are expecting revelations >>More


March, 2010

Mostly Spruce and Hemlock
Author: Louis J. Simmons

Review by: Philip Terrie

ACADEMIC HISTORIANS (like me) who devote their careers to regional studies would be lost without the work of diligent amateurs. Here in the Adirondacks, for example, nearly all historical work begins with a grateful nod to Alfred Lee Donaldson’s two-volume A History of the Adirondacks, first published in 1921, reprinted in 1977 with an introduction by Saranac Lake Village Historian John Duquette, and still available in a paperback edition issued last year. Sent as a frail, possibly dying young man to the Trudeau tuberculosis sanitorium in 1895, Donaldson found in Saranac Lake improved health, a wife, and a village he >>More


January, 2010

Historic Tales from the Adirondack Almanack
Author: John Warren

Review by: Neal Burdick

NO MATTER HOW MUCH you think you know about the Adirondacks, there’s always more to be learned. The proof of that hypothesis lies in John Warren’s new book Historic Tales from the Adirondack Almanack, an eclectic collection of stories, observations, and odds and ends from his equally eclectic, always informative, and highly entertaining Adirondack Almanack website. In a nutshell, if you like the site you’ll like the book. “These essays were meant to be glimpses of history, short pieces on context, not complete historical narratives,” says Warren in his preface. He admits that his “five-part history of snowmobiling in the >>More


January, 2010

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America
Author: Douglas Brinkley

Review by: By Philip Terrie

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, a history professor at Rice University, is a prodigiously productive author or coauthor of an amazing array of best-selling books on a wide range of topics, from the Cold War, espionage, and hurricane Katrina to lives of Ronald Reagan, Henry Ford, and Rosa Parks, among many others. His latest is a huge (817 pages, not counting notes and index), eminently readable study of the environmental accomplishments and attitudes of Theodore Roosevelt. Perhaps he writes too many books and too fast, however. For this one, at least so far as the Adirondacks is concerned, is replete with annoying errors. >>More


November, 2009

Adirondack Trails with Tales
Author: Russell Dunn and Barbara Delaney

Review by: Neal Burdick

There are lots of Adirondack trail guides. And there are lots of Adirondack history books. But there aren’t many books that do both equally well. Licensed guides Russell Dunn and Barbara Delaney have successfully achieved this merger with Adirondack Trails with Tales. The subtitle, History Hikes through the Adirondack Park and the Lake George, Lake Champlain and Mohawk Valley Regions (aside from the quibble that two of those three regions are mostly in the Adirondack Park) gives us a good idea of what we’ll find between these covers. And what we find are over two dozen hikes that are redolent >>More


November, 2009

The Great Experiment in Conservation
Author: William F.Porter, Jon D. Erickson & Ross S.Whaley

Review by: Brian Mann

When Ross Whaley started work on a new anthology of writing about the Adirondacks (co-edited with William Porter and Jon Erickson), he was wrapping up a four-year stint as Adirondack Park Agency chairman. That meant wrestling with the meaning and value of the Adirondack experiment while still struggling to shape its future. “When I went into this project, I talked about the Park as a model for sustainable development for rural wildlands here and elsewhere,” Whaley said in an interview with the Explorer. “What I learned … in the process of doing the book is that the package in total >>More


September, 2009

Paul Smith’s Adirondack Hotel and College
Author: Neil Surprenant

Review by: Neal Burdick

Arcadia Publishing recently released two old-photo books as part of its “Images of America,” and both will appeal to aficionados of Adirondack history. One is about a famous person and his endeavors, the other about a famous place. Paul Smith is one of those larger-than-life figures in the region’s historic repertoire. In fact, he’s the only person to have a college (spelled with a possessive apostrophe) and a post office (without the apostrophe) named for him. Half a century after his death, he got his own zip code. In partnership with his wife, Lydia, Smith built a hotel on Lower >>More


September, 2009

Boats and Boating on Cranberry Lake
Author: Allen P. Splete

Review by: Neal Burdick

Arcadia Publishing recently released two old-photo books as part of its “Images of America,” and both will appeal to aficionados of Adirondack history. One is about a famous person and his endeavors, the other about a famous place. Paul Smith is one of those larger-than-life figures in the region’s historic repertoire. In fact, he’s the only person to have a college (spelled with a possessive apostrophe) and a post office (without the apostrophe) named for him. Half a century after his death, he got his own zip code. In partnership with his wife, Lydia, Smith built a hotel on Lower >>More