The historian Philip Terrie has come out with a new book that collects nearly sixty articles that have appeared in the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine over the past two decades.
Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian covers a wide range of subjects: Adirondack art and literature, the history of the Forest Preserve, the scourges of acid rain and climate change, the meaning of wilderness, and the saga of a cougar that trekked from South Dakota to the Northeast.
Terrie, who lives in Ithaca and Long Lake, is retired from teaching American studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Seeing the Forest is his fourth book. His previous works also dealt with the Adirondacks. His best known is Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks. He also is the author of Forever Wild: A Cultural History of Wilderness in the Adirondacks and Wildlife and Wilderness: A History of Adirondack Mammals.
He has written for the Explorer since its inception in 1998. For Seeing the Forest, he selected fifty-eight of his best pieces.
I read through all the articles while preparing the book for publication. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. All are infused with a knowledge of everything Adirondack and a critical sensibility sharpened by years of reading and research. And the prose is clear and to the point.
The book is divided into four sections. The first is “People and Places.” Here you’ll learn about such luminaries as Louis Marshall, defender of Article 14; Clarence Petty, the Adirondack trapper turned conservationist; and Howard Zahniser, who worked on the federal Wilderness Act at a cabin in Bakers Mills.
The second section is “Arts and Letters.” Terrie reviews the artwork of painters such as Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Harold Weston; the photographs of Seneca Ray Stoddard; and the writings of past and present authors, including Ed Kanze and Bill McKibben. I especially liked his essay “Classic Adirondack Literature,” on works that appeared before the Civil War.
The third section, “Environment and Policy,” digs into the thorny environmental problems facing the Adirondack Park and the world at large. It opens with an essay about George Perkins Marsh whose Man and Nature, published in 1864, was among the first books to sound the alarm about the ruination of the natural world. Skipping ahead 150 years, Terrie also writes about what contemporary scientists such as Curt Stager and Jerry Jenkins have to say about today’s threats to the environment.
The final section is “Musings and Opinions,” in which Terrie expresses his views on a miscellany of topics. In “Wilderness,” he contrasts the hubbub of civilization with the serenity he finds at a remote pond in the High Peaks Wilderness. Elsewhere, he takes the Adirondack Park Agency to task for not doing enough to protect the Park, comes down in favor of wind turbines in the Adirondacks, rebuts the notion that economic growth and environmental protection are at odds, and calls on the state to make a stretch of the Raquette River motor-free.
The articles I’ve mentioned are just a sample of what you’ll find in Seeing the Forest. You can view the table of contents by clicking here.
Seeing the Forest is hardcover book, 240 pages. The color photograph on the dust jacket was taken by Carl Heilman II. There are some black-and-white illustrations inside.
Photo of Philip Terrie by Ann Lofting.