Book and Video Reviews

“The Art Of Outdoor Living; A Resource For The Junior Maine Guide Program” is on my top ten list of most important books on bushcraft and outdoor living, and recently came back into print. It provides clear instructions on a variety of outdoor living skills. The updated edition features 280 pages of revised text, glossy [...]

I like first person accounts of life in the bush. There are many from throughout North America that I’ve read, but I also enjoy those from farther afield. Recently I had a day of travel (car, bus, plane), and spent the whole day reading Dersu The Trapper. It’s a true account written by a Russian [...]

I just watched Thomas Elpel’s new dvd Classroom In The Woods; Primitive Skills For Public Schools.  It is a documentary shot on location in Montana where he and his team from the Hollowtop Outdoor Primitive School take junior high class on a 3-day primitive camping trip.  In addition to following the journey of the students, [...]

I enjoy reading about aspects of history that are little known – especially with regard to exploration.  Fittingly, I recently started reading a book I got at the library by Gavin Menzies called 1421: The Year The Chinese Discovered America.  In it the author discusses the Chinese treasure fleets and how they explored the globe [...]

Friluftsliv (pronounced: free-looft-sleev) literally means “free-air-life”, and is translated by Roger and Sarah Isberg for their book as “simple life.”  Originally written in Swedish,  it was published and reprinted three times there before being expanded and translated to English. Here’s an explanation of the term by Roger from the introduction; It defines the philosophy and [...]

Over the weekend I read Paddle And Portage: From Moosehead Lake To The Aroostook River, Maine by Thomas Sedgwick Steele on Google Books. It’s an 1880 account of traveling the route named in the title, which goes right by our new place in Masardis. I’ve always loved old books, especially if I’ve traveled over the [...]

I’ve been thinking about writing a review for Paul Stamets’s book Mycelium Running since I read it last fall. It’s an amazing book about fungi, which most people think are simply mushrooms. The reality, as put forth in the book, is that fungi are the internet of the natural world; communicating over long distances and [...]

Aside from this being a powerful and moving biography, the documentary Little Dieter Needs To Fly is a fascinating look at survival psychology. From the DVD: As a young boy, Dieter Dengler watched as Allied places destroyed his village; from that instant, he knew he wanted to fly. At 18, he moved to America, enlisted [...]

I saw a documentary yesterday called America’s Stone Age Explorers which examined the evidence behind the various theories on the peopling of the Americas. It is the first bit I’ve seen in the mainstream media to challenge the Clovis first theory – the one we were all taught in school about the land bridge at [...]

We make family trips to the library once a week. Last week I got a book called Over The Mountains; An Aerial View Of Geology by Michael Collier. It’s a book of aerial photographs that are stunningly beautiful. The accompanying text explains the geologic features of the photographs. From the introduction: “With this book, I’d [...]

Duane Hanson gave me a copy of Lindsay’s Technical Books catalog when I was up at his place in June. It’s a great resource for obscure how-to books on a variety of subjects such as blacksmithing, building, crafting and science. From the cover of the catalog; “Exeptional technical books for experimenters, inventors, tinkerers, mad scientists, [...]

This fall on our bushcraft and guide training trip on the Allagash we had two people with us from Scotland. We did a fair bit of fly fishing, and I watched with great interest one our Scottish friends Spey cast. I had read about it but had never seen it before. He showed me a [...]

Based on a recommendation from friend and fellow Maine Guide Bud Farwell, I recently got my hands on a copy of “The One-Eyed Poacher and the Maine Woods” by Edmund Ware Smith through inter-library loan. Since it arrived I’ve been reading with delight the stories about Thomas Jefferson Coongate, the infamous one-eyed poacher. He’s a [...]

This summer marks the 11th year I’ve been composting human manure, or humanure, by a process outlined in The Humanure Handbook. It’s a simple system, with the only inputs being sawdust and hay, that has worked flawlessly for our school and home. To mark the anniversary, I’m reposting the original book review I wrote about [...]
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