Reflections in Bullough's Pond: Economy and Ecosystem in New England

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UPNE, Sep 1, 2002 - Nature - 324 pages
3 Reviews
From the vantage point of a nearby pond in Newton, Massachusetts, Diana Muir reconstructs an intriguing interpretation of New England's natural history and the people who have lived there since pre-Columbian times. Taking a radically new way to illustrate for general readers the vast interrelationships between natural ecology and human economics, Muir weaves together an imaginative and dramatic account of the changes, massive and subtle, that successive generations of humankind and such animals as sheep and beavers have worked on the land.

Her compelling narrative takes us to a New England populated by individuals struggling to make a living from a land not generously endowed by nature. Yankee history, she argues, was a string of ecological crises from which the only escape lay in creating radical new solutions to apparently insurmountable problems. Young men and women coming of age in the 1790s faced a bleak future. In a time when farming was virtually the only occupation, a burgeoning population meant that there was not enough land to go around. Worse, such land as there was had been worn out by generations of careless use. With no prospects and no options, young men like Eli Whitney and Thomas Blanchard might have resigned themselves to a life of poverty. Instead, they started an industrial revolution, the power of which astonished the world.

Reflections in Bullough's Pond is history on a grand scale. Drawing on scholarship in fields ranging from archaeology to zoology, Muir offers an exhilarating tour of Paleolithic megafauna, the population crisis faced by New England natives in the pre-Columbian period, the introduction of indoor plumbing, and the invention of the shoe-peg. At the end, we understand ourselves and our world a little better.

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Review: Reflections in Bullough's Pond: Economy and Ecosystem in New England

User Review  - Rob Gall - Goodreads

This is an excellent read for anyone interested in either the history of New England or the evolving impact of humans on the environment. Diana Muir's personal style and intimate knowledge of ... Read full review

Review: Reflections in Bullough's Pond: Economy and Ecosystem in New England

User Review  - HBalikov - Goodreads

This book should be subtitled: How New England, without fertile soil, rich minerals or good weather has managed to succeed. An artful combination of history and natural history that serves to highlight what we have and what we might have. Read full review


From Time Immemorial
Improving Nature
The Economics of Extermination
SaltWatered Prosperity
This WellWatered Land
To the Farthest Port of the Rich East
Cobbling a Living
Why Lightning Strikes
Spinning Cotton into Gold
Cities of Steam
The Maine Woods
Pure Waters
Fishing for Profits
Terrarium Earth
The Third Revolution

Peddling the Future
Machines That Make Machines
Acres Cleared and Drained

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About the author (2002)

DIANA MUIR is an award-winning writer whose books include The Glorious Fourth, Thanksgiving, and, for children, Cocoa Ice and Giants in the Land.

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