The Pine Barrens are so close to New York that on a very clear night a bright light in the pines would be visible from the Empire State Building.
New Jersey is one of the most densely populated US states, but, unknown to many, it is also home to a vast forest of pines, oaks and cedars almost identical in size to the Grand Canyon.
This is the Pine Barrens. People tend to think of New Jersey as a suburban thoroughfare, yet huge sections of the Pine Barrens remain uninhabited. Beneath its sandy soil lies an immense natural reservoir of soft pure water, while amongst the trees grow millions of wild blueberry and cranberry bushes.
With his customary curiosity, McPhee sets out to map this mysterious landscape. He retraces its history and meets the 'pineys', the often misunderstood people who call the pines home. One resident can navigate the dense woods by sheer memory, and another responds to McPhee's knock on his door with a pork chop in one hand, a raw onion in the other, and the inimitable greeting, 'Come in. Come in. Come on the hell in.'
The Pine Barrens is a compelling portrait of a place and its people, and a celebration of a rare wilderness in our increasingly urban landscape.
'McPhee's genius is that he can write about anything.' Robert Macfarlane
'McPhee is a grand master of narrative non-fiction.' Guardian
Whatever he writes about, McPhee manages to make it not just accessible but fascinating.' Scotsman
'Proves that factual writing can be as "creative" as any novel.' New Statesman
'His mind is pure curiosity: It aspires to flow into every last corner of the world, especially the places most of us overlook.' New York Times
'John McPhee remains without peer. To our good fortune he revels in a universe full of things to understand, and there is nobody better at sharing that joy with his readers.' Washington Post
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