The new book In the Adirondacks: Dispatches from the Largest Park in the Lower 48 (Fordham University Press, 2023) by Matt Dallos blends lively history and immersive travel writing to explore the Adirondacks that captivated Dallos’s childhood imagination while presenting a compelling and entertaining story about the largest American park outside of Alaska.
The result is a meandering journey through the region’s bogs and lakes and boreal forests and the lives of residents and tourists.
Out of all the rural areas of the United States, including those in the West, which are bigger and propped-up by more pervasive myths about adventure and nation and wilderness and freedom, the Adirondacks has accumulated a well-known identity beyond its boundaries.
Combining author Matt Dallos’s personal observation with his thorough research of primary and secondary documents, In the Adirondacks rambles through the region to understand its significance within American culture and what lessons it might offer us for how we think about the environment.
Dallos digs through the region’s past and present to excavate a series of compelling stories and places: a moose named Harold, a hot dog mogul’s rustic mansion, an ecological restoration on an alpine summit, a hermit who demanded a helicopter ride, and a millionaire who dressed up as a Native American to rob a stagecoach. Along the way, Dallos listened to locals and tourists, visited wilderness areas and souvenir shops, and dug through archives in museums and libraries.
In the Adirondacks explores the history and future of the most complicated, contested park in North America, raising important questions about the role of environmental preservation and the great outdoors in American history and culture.
Matt Dallos is a PhD candidate at Cornell University, where he teaches environmental writing seminars. He lives in the Finger Lakes of New York.
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