The Interrupted Forest by Neil Rolde

The Interrupted ForestLiving in New  Brunswick as I do, it is only inevitable that any access to the U.S. from here must come through the state of Maine. Over the years, my wife & I have enjoyed many vacations in Maine whether it was “Down East” (Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island) or in the western mountain and lakes region (Rangeley, Moosehead). On a recent trip to Rangeley, I was quick to stop into Books, Lines and Thinkers, an independent bookseller with whom I have visited on a previous trip. I asked Wess (the owner) about a book on Maine history that he might recommend. He immediately presented me with this book, which is sub-titled “A History of Maine’s Wildlands”. While it is not just a history of the Maine Woods, it does touch on the settlement of Maine by the Puritans and Pilgrims, the push into the forests (pushing the Native Americans out) and the inevitable logging that would soon follow upon which the economy of Maine was based – and controlled by-  for so many years.

The author, Neil Rolde is a Maine historian and former state legislator, putting him in a perfect position to relate history and the legalities of who exactly owned and controlled what when it came down to sorting out all the issues regarding the Maine North Woods, issues which are still ongoing today.

The book is laid out in a present/past/future arrangement which makes sense as you progress through the chapters. Written in 2001, it starts with issues regarding the Maine Woods currently in the news then (“Nowadays”), then proceeds on to geologic and prehistoric times, through discovery of North America, settlement, the French-Indian Wars, the American revolution, industrialization, clear-cutting and so on, until we come full circle and Mr. Rolde, from his unique perspective, assesses the future of the Maine Woods.

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I found the book very fascinating to read, not only because the history of Maine overlaps to some extent the history of New Brunswick (see the Madawaska territory) but due to Mr. Rolde’s writing style, which rarely gets bogged down in the legalities (which it sometimes does, but then again, I barely understand the American governmental system) and is always easy to understand and retains perspective.

There are good use of footnotes at the end of each chapter as well as an excellent bibliography and index. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the state of Maine and wanting to understand present issues regarding “The Interrupted Forest”.

My Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars.

Book details:

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: TILBURY HOUSE PUBLISHERS (Jan. 30 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0884482340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0884482345
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