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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 Books (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767902521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767902526
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.9 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (674 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #844,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

6 of 6 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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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 Cynthia Danute Cekauskas, LCSW TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Jan. 22 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book is SO GOOD you feel compelled to comment about it and encourage others (especially those who like to take long walks in the woods) to READ it. I bought my copy at the Unicoi State Park gift shop in Helen, Georgia during a recent trip there. It is great to know that the book is also available on

As you may already know, the book is about the author's trek through the woods on the Appalachian Trail with a male friend in the mid-1990's. This famous trail, the author informs us in Chapter 1, is over 2100 miles long stretching from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. It is also NO walk in the park as walking the trail holds very potential dangers of not only being seriously injured but also possibly being killed. In the early chapters of the book the author describes these dangers in very specific ways including, but not being limited to, the possibility of being eaten by bears, bitten by poisonous snakes, struck by lightning, getting lost and dying from hypothermia or even being murdered by someone of the human species. At this early juncture you begin to wonder, under those circumstances, why anyone, in their right mind, would choose to walk this perilous trail.

Continuing on, however, the book evolves into a real adventure story. Like his friend, the author admits to being middle-aged, somewhat overweight, even rather shamed by a similar aged, overweight but very annoying woman they encounter early on. At first he doesn't appear to much like his own walking companion either but then realizes, despite his faults, he, like the author, holds a spirit of adventure in him that keeps propelling the two forward.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Thompson TOP 1000 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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