The Appalachian Trail: A Biography

Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780358171997. $26. HIST
In this debut, D’Anieri (urban and regional planning, Univ. of Michigan) offers a unique narrative of the Appalachian Trail, told through the lives of people who envisioned and sculpted it. D’Anieri uncovers the trail’s overlooked history: the lobby for federal funding; its rerouting due to scenic parkways built along ridgetops; neglect during and after World War II; and complicated land deals to secure passageway for a continuous trail. Along the way, D’Anieri sheds light on the Swiss scientist who brought the term Appalachian into common use, as well as early advocates for a national trail, and National Park Service staff. Thru-hiking memoirs may be the current rage, but they wouldn’t exist without the passion and fortitude of the individuals outlined here. D’Anieri closes by exploring the whiteness of the trail’s user base, which advocates are working to diversify. He also finds solutions for ecological damage caused by the trail.
VERDICT For readers interested in the outdoors. The complicated and colorful people who brought the AT to life deliver a distinctive view of its creation.
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