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From Coastal Wilderness to Fruited Plain: A History of Environmental Change in Temperate North America from 1500 to the Present / Edition 1

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From Coastal Wilderness to Fruited Plain is an account of the making of the American landscape following European settlement. It starts with "virgin" forests and grasslands of the central and northeastern United States, and successively documents the clearance and fragmentation of the region's woodlands, the harvest of the forest and its game, the plowing of prairies and the draining of wetlands. The Native American, the trapper, the farmer and the lumberman all benefited from the land and its resources; the degree to which their activities altered the soil, the climate, the natural plant and animal communities, and the water cycle is examined here.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a thorough assessment of the land use history in New England and the Midwest." American Historical Review

"The appearance of European settlers and the rapid occupation of an entire continent mainly by their progeny in fewer than 350 years produced one of the most dramatic transformations of the modern era. Whitney is to be admired for his careful, scientific approach to tabulating the enviromental consequences of that occupation on many levels. This is a book to which historians can turn for particular information on changes in land cover over time." William and Mary Quarterly

"...restorationists and others interested in understanding more about the environmental history of their region will find Whitney's study extremely valuable and his extensive reference list and fine chapter on reconstructing the past through the use of documentary and field evidence unsurpassed." Restoration and Management Notes

" important book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the ecological history of the Northeast and Midwest—especially foresters and other resource managers...truly captivating in its exquisite detail and revealing insights into the past—the prologue to our future." American Forests

"Whitney's book provides a superb benchmark from which to thoroughly and accurately assess the human impact on ecosystems of the northeastern quarter of the United States. Its timely appearance will stimulate further ecological research as well as inform discussions interpreting the place of humans in this environment...a superbly written and wonderfully illustrated volume that will serve as an excellent text for upper-level courses, and an enduring reference for the full array of scholars concerned with the interactions of the North American environment and its human inhabitants." C. Mark Cowell, Ecoscience

"...Whitney is a key to a large and often obscure literature; there are roughly 2,500 references..." Stuart L. Pimm, Nature

"...the book is unique and valuable, and the chapter on research methods ought to be required reading among environmental historians." Donald Worster, Journal of American History

"This is a history book written by an ecologist, making it imminently readable for me....The writing style is fluid and easy going....well worth reading, and probably buying too....should be on reading lists for courses dealing with the landscape history of the northeast." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club

"This well-illustrated and meticulously researched book will serve as a definitive source for forest history and historical geography. It should interest all those concerned with the sustainability of ecosystems and the imprint of past activities on forests, farms, and urban ecosystems." Choice

" excellent example of ecological our eyes to how human actions have altered the land and to what ecological changes are still influencing the appearance and health of the natural world around us." Wild earth

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521576581
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

List of figures; List of tables; Acknowledgements; Conversion of English to metric units; US state abbreviations; Common and scientific names of trees mentioned in the text; Photographic essay illustrating the character and the demise of the pre-settlement vegetation of the Northeast and the Midwest; 1. Introduction; 2. Reconstructing the past; 3. Nature imposes …; 4. The forest primeval; 5. Preservers of the ecological balance wheel; 6. European precedents; 7. Assault upon the forest, part I: the farmer; 8. Assault upon the forest, part II: the lumber industry; 9. Assault upon the forest, part III: fuel-wood; 10. Predatory agriculture; 11. Grassland agriculture; 12. Forest influences; 13. A transported flora; 14. An impoverished fauna; 15. The legislated landscape; 16. Conclusion; References; Index.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2001

    A classic tool for Ecology research!

    I found this text while writing my senior thesis on the Chestnut tree blight (Castanea dentata). This text is THE definitive work on pre-Columbian ecology of the United States. List of plants and animals that were common place in PA (my state) were truly eye opening. If you are an Ecology, Natural Horticulture, or Environmental Designer, this book is an outstanding look at the former biodiversity of our nation. Very in-depth and informative. A great reference text.

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