Walden Pond: A History

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 97%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (16) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $20.82   
  • Used (11) from $1.99   


Here is the first history of the Massachusetts landmark Henry David Thoreau made famous 150 years ago. W. Barksdale Maynard offers a lively and comprehensive account of Walden Pond - from the early nineteenth century to the present. From Thoreau's first visit at age 4 in 1821 to today's efforts both to conserve and allow public access to it, Maynard captures Walden Pond's history and the role it has played in social, cultural, literary, and environmental movements in America. Exhaustively researched, vividly written, and illustrated with historical photographs and the most detailed maps of Thoreau country ever created, this book reveals how an ordinary body of water has come to be such an extraordinarily inspiring symbol.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

John Motyka
Maynard's move to disengage Walden the idea -- the shrine of the environmental movement -- from Walden the place, one that ''has long been a beloved swimming hole for greater Boston,'' has helped him to construct a scholarly study of an iconic, if less than idyllic place.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
As Maynard dismayingly shows, since the death of Henry David Thoreau, hundreds of thousands of visitors have flocked to Walden Woods each year; they have trampled the flora, polluted the water with debris and urine, blared radios, set up hot dog stands and generally marred the face of this once sacred retreat. Maynard quotes one disheartened visitor who described Walden Pond in the 20th century as "a mass of humanity, a stew of frantic motion, boom boxes and squealing children." In this history of the pond and its surroundings, Maynard relates that in the past 10 years matters have improved markedly. Rock star Don Henley spearheaded the Walden Woods Project, raising millions of dollars for preservation; yet Thoreauvian purists remain skeptical about a Hollywood figure taking charge and pandering for corporate sponsorship. What would Thoreau think about the dramatic changes that have taken place in his name? How did an ordinary pond come to have such extraordinary meanings? Maynard, an architectural historian who has served as a consultant to the Walden Woods Project, tackles all of these questions in a painstakingly researched, reportorial history that begins with Thoreau's first glimpse of the pond in 1821 and carries through to the present day. It's a classic tale of Americans loving their national treasures to death, and though the middle portion of the narrative becomes a bit repetitive with its blow-by-blow account of the growth of crass commercialism, this book will surely appeal to Thoreau buffs and to those concerned with natural and historic preservation. It provides a comprehensive history of the landscape that inspired one of America's most important authors. 85 b&w illus. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The history-starting mostly from the Emersonian/Thoreauvian era-of America's most famous pond and enduring symbol of the environmental movement. Maynard (Architectural History/Johns Hopkins Univ. and Univ. of Delaware) first visited the site as a student in 1986 and with this work moves near the head of the very large class of pond-o-philes. His study, which follows a loose dawn-to-dark pattern, bears a slightly misleading title: He spends a few pages on the geological history of the pond but his cynosure is principally Henry David Thoreau (1817-62) and his enduring influence. The glacial pond, says Maynard, replaces its water every five years through leaching and rainfall. There is no spring feeding the pond; no streams flow from it. Thoreau first saw the 61.5-acre lake in 1821 and lived his famous two years there in 1845-47. Maynard properly revises several popular misconceptions about Thoreau, who was not alone in the wilderness. From his little house (10x15 ft.) he could see both the Concord road and the railroad; he had many visitors; he frequently saw his family, who lived hard by. Still, he did go to the site countless times-before and after his celebrated sojourn-sounding its depths, staring at stumps, becoming an authority on its flora and fauna. Maynard quotes liberally from Walden and from Thoreau's journals; he quotes, as well, from letters, journals, and publications of many others-Thoreau's coevals and their successors, ranging from Jack Kerouac to Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, who lived in his own Thoreauvian cabin. Later portions deal with the encroachments of "civilization" over the last 150 years and the ferocious defense of the pond by assorted groups, most successfully theWalden Woods Project (for whom the author has worked), which raised millions of dollars under the leadership of Eagles rocker Don Henley to buy adjacent lands eyed greedily by developers and local government alike and to establish the Thoreau Institute. Great maps show who's owned what around the pond. Essential for readers of Thoreau. (85 halftones)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195168419
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/12/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

W. Barksdale Maynard teaches architectural history at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Delaware and is the author of Architecture in the United States, 1800-1850. He has served as a consultant for The Walden Woods Project and was a visiting scholar at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods. He lives in Newark, Delaware.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Maps
Preface and Acknowledgments
1 In Morning Time 1
2 Visited at All Seasons (1821-1834) 15
3 Intellectual Grove (1835-1844) 29
4 Far Off As I Lived (1845-1847) 63
5 Viewed from a Hilltop (1848-1854) 95
6 Walden Wood Was My Forest Walk (1855-1861) 121
7 All Honest Pilgrims (1862-1882) 153
8 Thoreau's Country (1883-1921) 191
9 Walden Breezes (1922-1959) 229
10 In These Days of Confusion and Turmoil (1960-1989) 265
11 walden.org (1990-2003) 301
Abbreviations 335
Notes 337
Bibliography 363
Index 389
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2004


    I know a good deal about Walden Pond and Walden Woods as a result of many years of personal research. I never thought that anyone would be able to bring together, between the covers of one book, the astonishing amount of information Barksdale Maynard has compiled and integrated in this scrupulously researched and well written book. He has brought together facts from all sorts of sources: newspapers and magazines, books, unpublished letters and diaries, eyewitness interviews, videos, radio broadcasts, maps, and so forth. There are fifty pages of endnotes and bibliography--over 500 of each. I am in awe at what he has been able to do. (Wish I could have done it!) Anyone interested in historic preservation, nature conservation, human nature, grassroots activism, literature, or (most important) Thoreau and Walden itself will enjoy this book. It has lots of information, yet it reads easily and has a good 'story line': how and why Walden has become the symbol it is and what people have done to protect it. The hero of heroes is Don Henley of The Eagles. There are lots of other people--heroes, villains, oddballs, famous people (Emerson, the Alcotts, John Muir, Walt Whitman, the Kennedys, the Clintons, and many others). I recommend the book highly.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)