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The Pine Barrens

John McPhee, illustrated by James Graves

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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.

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Pine Barrens, The
1The Woods from Hog WallowFROM THE FIRE TOWER ON BEAR SWAMP Hill, in Washington Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, the view usually extends about twelve miles. To the north, forest land reaches to the horizon. The trees are mainly oaks and pines, and the pines predominate. Occasionally, there are long, dark, serrated stands of Atlantic white cedars, so tall and so closely set that they seem to be spread against the sky on the ridges of hills, when in fact they grow along streams that flow through the forest. To the east, the view is similar, and few people who are not
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Pine Barrens

“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

“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

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • John McPhee, illustrated by James Graves

  • John McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with The New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. Also in 1965, he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and in the years since, he has written nearly 30 books, including Oranges (1967), Coming into the Country (1977), The Control of Nature (1989), The Founding Fish (2002), Uncommon Carriers (2007), and Silk Parachute (2011). Encounters with the Archdruid (1972) and The Curve of Binding Energy (1974) were nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science. McPhee received the Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters in 1977.  In 1999, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Annals of the Former World.  He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
  • John McPhee Peter Cook
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The Pine Barrens

John McPhee, illustrated by James Graves

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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