The Pine Barrens
By John McPhee
John McPhee wrote The Pine Barrens in 1967, when he went to explore the area of southern New Jersey because he “found it hard to believe that so much unbroken forest could still exist so near the big Eastern cities.” The Pine Barrens is an area rich in biodiversity as well as historical and cultural significance for New Jersey. It is home to a pygmy forest of miniature pine and oak trees, large scale cranberry harvesting, rare and interesting plants, and a unique history of industry, manufacturing, and becoming our country’s first National Reserve. McPhee wrote The Pine Barrens initially for the New Yorker. This book is one of the first examples of a style of writing for which McPhee became famous known as literary nonfiction. He blends geologic and environmental history with the intimate portraits of people he meets and experiences he has in this unique section of New Jersey. A really interesting aspect to reading this book now is to realize that while this book is over 40 years old, much of what McPhee observes and experiences is still relevant and accurate.
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