The Appalachian Trail: A Biography

Philip D’Anieri. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-3581-7199-7
In this engrossing debut, urban planning professor D’Anieri takes a breezy trek through the century-long history of the Appalachian Trail. To provide a glimpse of the life of this well-traversed place as it’s developed over time, he compiles profiles of the individuals who shaped it. In the late 1920s, for example, Horace Kephart—who helped establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—was instrumental in devising the trail’s southern end, after its founding by Benton MacKaye in 1921, who saw it as “a recreational preserve to serve the people.” D’Anieri also chronicles the trail’s early hikers, among them Earl Shaffer—a “young loner” who charted paths in 1948 for others to follow—and Emma Gatewood, a septuagenarian who cared less about the “purity of nature” than the freedom the walk provided. Meanwhile, Bill Bryson’s influential book A Walk in the Woods—about his time on the trail—is given a local interpretation with criticism from the Appalachian Trail Club for its “apparent disinterest in the trail’s larger ideals.” In genial prose, D’Anieri captures the trail’s majesty and its power to inspire those who ramble on it. Hikers will be captivated by the rich history, as well as those in need of inspiration for their next escape. Agent: Regina Ryan, Regina Ryan Books. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/21/2021
Release date: 06/08/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 256 pages - 978-0-358-44930-0
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