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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) Paperback – 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Broadway (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767902521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767902526
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2 x 20.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (659 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #173,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.9 out of 5 stars

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on Aug. 26 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Perhaps it was a fit of angst dealing with his own personal version of a mid-life crisis that led Bill Bryson to tackle the challenge of hiking the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail! It was certainly a solid understanding of his own personality and clear recognition of his own physical and mental limitations that prompted him to invite his friend, Stephen Katz, an overweight and out of shape recovering alcoholic with an inordinate fondness for snack foods and cream soda to accompany him on this daunting challenge. The demands of the AT ultimately proved too much for Bryson and Katz who sensibly (and with an almost relieved sense of philosophical acceptance) decided to abandon the notion of a complete through hike. But the resulting story, drawn from Bryson's daily journal of the summer's efforts, is an overwhelming success and pure joy in the reading.

"A Walk in the Woods" is an extraordinary, entertaining travelogue on both the AT - the Appalachian Trail - and the people and places of small town America that dot the trail's path along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Maine. At the same time, it is much, much more. Bryson is scathing in his political commentary and almost enraged criticism of the ongoing state of mismanagement and the sadly misguided policies of both the Parks and Forest Services of the US government. "A Walk in the Woods" is also a deeply moving introspective examination on the nature of friendship, family, perseverance, joy and despondency.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER on Nov. 30 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was written in the style of John McPhee and even quoting him once in a while. It includes facts and people like "The Perfect Storm." Then Bill Bryson adds first hand personal experiences. You can identify with his comments that do not have to be funny to be familiar.

This book recounts Bill Bryson's experiences on the Appalachian Trail. The dry facts can be picked up through other material. However the personal experiences are just that, personal. If you have never been hiking then you still get a feel for what you have missed. However if you have hiked then you can really appreciate the people he met, and circumstances that he went through. There are hikers and then there are hikers. In the Boy Scouts you are usually in a well-organized group, in the military you have to be more cautious of objects and terrain, Sierra Club and Outward Bound have their unique points of view. So if his experience is different, it still makes for fun reading.

I even liked the sections on selecting and using the equipment. I am afraid if I had met Bill Bryson on the trail; I would have been one of those "equipment comparing" people.

Anyway do not expect an epic and you will enjoy the time you spend reading this book. Oh, and it does make me want to go hiking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cahhmc on Nov. 20 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is not a guidebook. Nor is it an instructional book. If you hiked the AT and want to re-live memories, you probably won't like this book. If you want to see another perspective on backpacking, you won't learn a thing from this book. If you're looking for just a really funny book, this one will let you down after chapter 5. All in all, its not the book you think it is, or at least, it was not what I thought it was.
But, if you love the outdoors, if current threats to wilderness get you up in arms, and if you've ever had a *bad* experience with food, getting lost, or your partner being annoying, you may like this book as much as I did -- which was an extraordinary and suprised amount. It is not always funny, not always historical, and not always a sheer and grand disgrace to the art of backpacking. But I enjoyed the mix so much that after I read it, I took it with me and read it aloud to my hiking partners over the 90 miles of the Wonderland trail. Go figure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Thompson TOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 8 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A brief history of my acquaintance with this book is in order, I think ...

I read two of Bryson's books (Mother Tongue and A Short History of Nearly Everything, Illustrated Edition) and decided I wanted to read more of this author. I ordered from Amazon, and this was one of the four Bryson titles I selected. Eventually, and for no other reason than I expected that this book would be the best, I decided to save 'A Walk in the Woods' for last. Well, as it happened, the books I ended up reading before it are now favorites, while this book is still reckoned as a disappointment. It may possibly be that, by saving this book for last I had invested it with unwarranted expectations, but, it in the end I could only conclude that this book is not Bryson at his best...

There is lots of typical Bryson humor here (I love the gadget buying stuff, for example) but the fact remains that when I saw that this was about an Appalachian Trail book, I assumed we would get an account of a trail traversal. Not so. Bill and his companion last only a few weeks on the trail and then quit about a quarter way through. That shouldn't matter perhaps, if journalistic truth is the ultimate goal, but the fact is that an 'adventure' book like this needed a good story with closure; The style, I felt, demanded that there be a successful finish somewhere... As it stands the book disappoints fundamentally.... after the failure to conclude the trail, the chapters that discuss subsequent hikes are just superfluous.

Bill .... walk the trail. Get back to us after-wards.....
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