On Trails

On Trails

An Exploration

Book - 2016
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"From a brilliant new literary voice comes a groundbreaking exploration of how trails help us understand the world--from tiny ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet. In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others devolve? What makes us follow or strike off on our own? Over the course of the next seven years, Moor traveled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive. He learned the tricks of master trail-builders, hunted down long-lost Cherokee trails, and traced the origins of our road networks and the Internet. In each chapter, Moor interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing--combining the nomadic joys of Peter Matthiessen with the eclectic wisdom of Lewis Hyde's The Gift. Throughout, Moor reveals how this single topic--the oft-overlooked trail--sheds new light on a wealth of age-old questions: How does order emerge out of chaos? How did animals first crawl forth from the seas and spread across continents? How has humanity's relationship with nature and technology shaped world around us? And, ultimately, how does each of us pick a path through life? Moor has the essayist's gift for making new connections, the adventurer's love for paths untaken, and the philosopher's knack for asking big questions. With a breathtaking arc that spans from the dawn of animal life to the digital era, On Trails is a book that makes us see our world, our history, our species, and our ways of life anew"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 2016
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476739212
Characteristics: 340 pages ; 22 cm


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Oct 25, 2019

I picked up this book thinking I would page through it and glean a few tidbits of information and return it. Instead I read it from prologue to epilogue. As a hiker of trails and a bushwacker I appreciate how this book wends its way through all sorts of different examples of trails from prehistoric traces of trails left by blobs of living material to hikes taken through congested, polluted cityscapes, and inner trails of neurons and memories. All of it tied together with research and 'feet on' experience.
The whole book felt like a wandering toward a nebulous destination with lots of side explorations and getting lost, then re-finding the trail and continuing. While reading it I kept bumping into thoughts and ideas I have had in my own inner wanderings as well as on physical trails.

Feb 19, 2019

Enjoyed the history, geology, entomology, philosophy, etymology, etc., of all types of trails as well as the history, status, and future of the Appalachian Trail. The epilogue rambled a bit, but the book, as a whole, was very interesting.

Dec 04, 2018

Press on through the slow granular sections (trails of microscopic organisms - who cares). This read left me a more well-rounded person, eagerly looking at where we are going as a society. Really hoping Moor comes out with a memoir - his experiences are incredible and highlighted this book.

May 24, 2018

A great book not just on physical paths but the spiritual one...if you are prepared to read between the lines. So to speak...

SPL_Shauna Nov 05, 2017

This book gives a lovely mix of natural history, philosophy, and autobiography as well as lending the reader the feeling of having spent some time outside. While the prose meanders a bit - no one would call this book fast-paced - if you love the topic and don't mind a deep dive, you'll enjoy sinking into the pages.

Oct 30, 2016

Interesting take on why trails and paths matter to us as humans. I enjoyed the authors musings and most of his stories but did find the book overall a bit too long and repetitive. The prologue was the best part.


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