The Thoreau You Don't Know [Giveaway]

The-thoreau-you-don't-know We're giving away a copy of this book to one commenter below, so make sure to comment with a valid email before midnight on Friday, May 22, 2009.*

In terms of non-architectural books, this is probably the most interesting book I've read in a long time.  In The Thoreau You Don't Know: What the Prophet of Environmentalism Really Meant, Robert Sullivan thoroughly and cleverly tells the real story of Henry David Thorough.  It's a different story than the one we've all become accustomed to hearing.  But it's fascinating and compelling.  And if you've ever thought of invoking the name of Thoreau in support of this or that environmental cause, give it a read before doing so. 

I know I will from now on, because Thoreau was a lot more complicated than the guy who simply built a small house near Walden Pond using borrowed materials and land.  He's a lot more complicated than the guy who paid his debts or went to jail. 

Thoreau was a pencil maker and a really good one.  He knew the business and innovated to make better pencils.  He was smart and deliberate and observant.  Of course, we all know he was a writer and some of his work was better than others.  But I didn't realize the extent of his relationship with Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Did you?  Did you know about his comings and goings in Concord or within the community?  I didn't. 

It's hard not to enjoy the portrait that Sullivan paints.  And to be honest, I hope Sullivan's representation turns out to be more than just today's piece of the Thoreau Historiography — a modern day projection of our idiosyncrasies on the real David Henry Thoreau.  The book certainly reads and feels comprehensive.  In fact, the The Thoreau You Don't Know has to be the closest thing we have to an objective look at the man.  As far as I can tell …

[+] Buy The Thoreau You Don't Know on Amazon.
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*If you're interested in the book, drop a comment by midnight MST on Friday, May 22, 2009.  Say where you're from if you don't know what to say.  By leaving a comment, you agree to the terms and conditions relating to book giveaways on Jetson Green.  Shipping only within U.S.

  • Brian N.

    My favorite Thoreau – Emerson story is when Emerson visited Thoreau in jail where he had been imprisoned for refusing to pay his poll taxes:

    “Mr. Emerson visited Thoreau at the jail, and the meeting between the two philosophers must have been interesting and somewhat dramatic. The account of the meeting was told me by Miss Maria Thoreau [Henry Thoreaus aunt]Henry, why are you here? Waldo, why are you not here?”

  • Daren

    Reading Waldon at right now – addicted. Sounds like this would be a perfect follow up!

  • Nicole

    I sadly know so little about Thoreau! He’s on the list to read, but has been for a long time like so many others. Maybe I should just bump him up!

  • Mark

    Awesome! Looks like a great read…

  • OJ

    Even if I don’t win, I think I’ll check out this book… sounds pretty interesting.

    • Preston

      Congrats OJ, you’re the winner of the book! I’ll email you to get your physical address. Everyone else good luck on our future giveaways.

  • Blake Stok

    Just wanted to let you know that you are doing a great job. I don’t check into the site everyday, but the email updates are very useful. Keep it up!

  • Dana W.

    This sounds like an excellent book! As one of the other commenters notes, if I don’t win it, I’ll have to make sure to check it out.

  • Stacey

    this book sounds great! Thanks for the give-aways!

  • mindy

    sounds great thanks for the giveaway

  • Abby

    This looks like a good one!

  • Jeff O.

    Like others, I might just have to buy it if I don’t win. 😉

  • Bridgette Steffen Meinhold

    I know so little about Thoreau, but after your description, I would love to know more.

  • Jenna Geyer

    Looks like an interesting read. I’ll have to add it to my list…

  • jason Nickolay
  • kim v

    Balitmorean here.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • genya

    i would like this book very much. (hope i win)

  • Belinda

    I would love to learn more about Thoreau. Thanks!

  • Nicole D.

    This looks like an interesting read. I read Walden’s Pond in college – I would like to know more about Thoreau.

  • Anonymous

    This would be a great win!


  • stephanie

    “I want to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

    This quote from Thoreau’s Walden, though lengthy, is one I have been living by since reading of the transcendentalists in high school. I’ve studied his works countless times since and though I’ve occasionally disagreed with his ideas, I’ve always adored him – like he was a member of my own family (however strange that might be).

    Though, after stumbling upon this post of Sullivan’s book, I’m not sure what to think. I do “invoking the name of Thoreau in support of this or that environmental cause,” and so to think that this read might change things is beyond me. I would no sooner want to hear a hurtful word about Bruce Wayne then I would about Thoreau!!

    Maybe, I’m just over thinking this whole thing. Best to calm down, right?

    Either way, my love for Thoreau has put Sullivan’s book among the top few to read this summer. So once I get my hands on it, I’ll sort things out myself and save you all from the rambling.

    • Preston

      Our mention of the book is purposely vague because I think Sullivan describes Thoreau in a way that I’ve not read before. But I haven’t read any other biographies of him either. Give it a read, I don’t think it’ll destroy your image him.

  • ann

    Wow, sounds like a really interesting book. I’ve actually never read any of Thoreau’s writings (big fan of Emerson though), but have always found him interesting. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  • wendy wallach

    For lack of something better, I am from NY.

    madamerkf at aol dot com

  • Andrew

    I’d like to read it. I’ll admit, there’s a lot about Thoreau that I don’t know, so this book wouldn’t have been hard to write for me. Yes, I need to read it! Thanks for the contest!

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