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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


May, 2017

American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of New York
Author: Corey Finger

Review by: John Thaxton

High praise for bird book   Beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated, the American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of New York covers 285 of the 485 bird species recorded in the state, and it includes a complete checklist of all the species ever seen, including those that have gone extinct or are sighted extremely rarely. The book strikes me as an excellent guide for beginning and moderately experienced birders, a casual, well-written hybrid of a field/where-to-see-birds guide. Born in Saugerties and now living in Queens, Corey Finger knows New York State well. His book includes thirty-eight pages of introductory >>More


April, 2017

New York’s Broken Constitution
Author: Peter J. Galie, Christopher Bopst & Gerald Benjamin

Review by: Philip Terrie

The New York State Constitution is a mess. So it’s no surprise that New York’s machinery of governance—legislation, the judiciary, the formulation and enforcement of policy, state finances, the separation of powers, and so much more—is also a mess. In New York’s Broken Constitution, a (mostly) well-researched and well-written book, ten experts (a good mix of lawyers and political scientists) lay out the almost countless ways in which the New York Constitution is anachronistic and incoherent—and thus almost hopelessly divorced from the day-to-day realities of governing in a complex, twenty-first-century state. On the flaws of our constitution and on how >>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


December, 2016

How to save the world
Author: Edward O. Wilson

Review by: Philip Terrie

Edward Wilson probably knows more about ants than any single person ever has—and perhaps ever will. But the study of ants, which he has been pursuing since he was a child in Alabama during the Great Depression, is only the beginning of this polymath’s prodigious appetite for understanding how our natural world works and what our place in that world is and should be. As his command of myrmecology (ant science) grew increasingly encyclopedic, his wonder at the complexities of ant society led him to breakthrough insights about broader ecological themes, especially concerning the importance of biodiversity. (It also led >>More


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