The Interrupted Forest: A History of Maine’s Wildlands

by Neil Rolde
Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 12.13.19 PMThis is the story of these lands, wild then and, in many places, wild still, and the humans who used them and shaped them and fought over them.

It is a story that starts in the present with the current controversies over land sales, clear-cutting and spraying, proposals for a gigantic National Park, the future of the pulp and paper and lumber industries, and no less than a secession movement in Northern Maine, and then seeks to answer the question: “How did this extraordinary region come into being?”More than half of Maine has never been settled and lies in what is called the Unorganized Territories, millions of acres of quasi-wilderness.

Add to this the thousands of farms that have grown back to woods since the Civil War, and you have the most forested state, percentage wise, in the United States. But the “uninterrupted forest” that Henry David Thoreau first saw in the 1840s was never exactly uninterrupted, for loggers had cut it severely even before the Concord iconoclast’s trip, settlers had gnawed into it, and the Indians, much earlier, had left their mark.

We go deep into geologic time to understand the land and the trees that grow on it, and then come the stories of people and events that have shaped it further: Native Americans, French, English, Puritans, settlers, loggers, speculators, great proprietors, surveyors, soldiers, squatters, industrialists, game poachers, conservationists, philosophers, artists, writers, sportsmen (and women), nature lovers, property rightists, preservationists, hermits, mystics, and picturesque characters of every stripe that have created and still create their own legends. Here is the background to see the Maine Woods—its wildlands—in perspective.

The Interrupted Forest: A History of Maine’s Woodlands is an outstanding work. Anyone interested in the fascinating history of Maine will find this sweeping, well-written book enjoyable and illuminating reading. . . . [Rolde] uses existing scholarship and primary sources to weave together a fascinating verbal tapestry of the Maine woods from native American times to the most recent upheavals about forest practices. . . . The sheer scope and overall quality of The Interrupted Forest commands our attention and makes it must reading for anyone with a sincere interest in the history and present situation of the great Maine woods.”
—Christian P. Potholm, Lewiston Sun Journal

“It is greatly to this author’s credit (and he had no large research staff to assist him) that he not only keeps such a comprehensive history under control, but also is eminently readable and often entertaining. For this his readers, and there will be many of them among future school and college students, will be most grateful, for there can be little question that Rolde’s new book will set the standard among histories of the Maine woods.”
—John N. Cole, Bangor Daily News

“Despite the vastness of his research, there remains a warmth and personality to Rolde’s prose that distinguishes it from the mere historical tome. As an added plus, he has included an annotated bibliography that likely offers the final word on anything you could ever want to know about the Maine woods.”
—Scott Sutherland, Mainebiz

“A well-balanced perspective of Maine and its land-who owns it, how it is used and what the future might hold for our interrupted forest. Rolde is a thoughtful, talented writer . . . [he] provides entertaining and well-explained information to help us make sense of it all.” —Bill Bushnell, Central Maine Newspapers

Cover art features “Mahoosuc Sunrise,” a panoramic photograph © Scott Perry.

Published by Tilbury House and now available at Polar Bear & Company

To order: The Interrupted Forest: A History of Maine’s Wildlands, 320 pp, Quality Paperback, ISBN 978-0-88448-234-5 . US $20

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