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Granite, Fire, and Fog

The Natural and Cultural History of Acadia

Tom Wessels

Acadia National Park, on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, is among the most popular national parks in the United States. From the road, visitors can experience magnificent vistas of summit and sea, but on a more intimate scale, equally compelling views abound along Acadia’s hiking trails. Tom Wessels, an ecologist, naturalist, and avid hiker, attributes the park’s popularity—and its unusual beauty—to the unique way in which earth, air, fire, and water—in the form of glacially scoured granite, winter winds, fire, and ocean fog—have converged to create a landscape that can be found nowhere else. In this beautifully illustrated book, Wessels invites readers to investigate the remarkable natural history of Mount Desert Island, along with the unique cultural story it gave rise to. This account of nature, terrain, and human interaction with the landscape will delight those who like to hike these bald summits, ride along the carriage roads, or explore the island’s rugged shoreline. Wessels concludes with a guided tour of one of his favorite hikes, a ten-mile loop that will acquaint the reader with the diverse ecosystems described throughout his book.

Cover Image of Granite
Paper: $24.95 | E-book: $23.95
ISBN-13: 9781512600087
Pages: 168 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: May 2, 2017
Screenshot-2023-10-11-at-16.51.58

Reviews

  • This is a park guidebook, an introduction to glaciated geology, a treatise on plant ecology, a history of an elite playground for the rich, and a story of the evolution of a national park. Though it is the work of an academic ecologist, it offers a very personal perspective. . . . The work is more a collection of essays than a text, but this style serves as a sound introduction to Acadia. The spare, clear language makes this a readable, informative book. . . . Recommended.

    Choice
  • A splendid, eminently readable book. . . . The author’s scope includes history and culture, making for a well-rounded text. . . . Let Granite, Fire & Fog open your eyes and mind anew to the natural and cultural bounty of an American treasure owned-in gratitude-by everyone and no one at the same time.

    Friends of Acadia Journal
  • Tom Wessels is the great biographer of New England rock and forest, and this volume belongs on the bookshelf of anyone invigorated by the tang of salt air!

    Bill McKibben
    environmental activist and author of Wandering Home
  • From the essence of bedrock to intertwined ecologic and human histories, this intimate portrait of a most special place along the Maine coast is true gift.

    Lauret Savoy
    author of Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
  • A delightfully engaging narrative. . . . This is one of the best regional field guides I've ever read.

    Mitchell Thomashow
    president emeritus, Unity College, and author of Bringing the Biosphere Home

About the Author

TOM WESSELS is a professor of ecology and the founding director of the master’s degree program in conservation biology at Antioch University New England. He is the author of Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England, Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape, The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future, and The Granite Landscape: A Natural History of America’s Mountain Domes, from Acadia to Yosemite.

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