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In this meditation that devolves into an unfocused meander, Mitchell (A Ceremonial Place) purports to treat of Boston's "deeper places," its "rocks and rivers, hills and hollows, trees and shrubs, and the wild animals that once inhabited these shores." While he does present some surprising information-the volcanic underpinnings of the geographical area; 5,000-year-old Native American fish weirs discovered around Copley Square; the history of Storrow Drive-his material is entirely unsourced and slackly structured. Phrases such as "may have," "must have," "one can imagine" or "so it is believed"-this last given without ever indicating by whom-obscure the historical narratives. Furthermore, Mitchell's digressive personal musings are littered with social- and ethno-psychologizing (Italians "worship" the World Cup trophy, Indians "willingly" "wipe out and decimate" beaver and deer) or are devoted to boohooing the automobile and post-19th-century modernity. A frame anecdote, about the author's brother refurbishing a boat, fails to provide any unifying force, nor is this material helped by clichés such as "mean streets" and "sleep of reason." What little the reader learns of Boston's original natural environment gets lost amid Mitchell's wandering attention and vague language. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.