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Publisher's Summary

"Walden. Yesterday I came here to live." That entry from the journal of Henry David Thoreau, and the intellectual journey it began, would by themselves be enough to place Thoreau in the American pantheon. His attempt to "live deliberately" in a small woods at the edge of his hometown of Concord has been a touchstone for individualists and seekers since the publication of Walden in 1854.

But there was much more to Thoreau than his brief experiment in living at Walden Pond. A member of the vibrant intellectual circle centered on his neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was also an ardent naturalist, a manual laborer and inventor, a radical political activist, and more. Many books have taken up various aspects of Thoreau's character and achievements, but, as Laura Dassow Walls writes, "Thoreau has never been captured between covers; he was too quixotic, mischievous, many-sided."

Two hundred years after his birth, and two generations after the last full-scale biography, Walls restores Henry David Thoreau to us in all his profound, inspiring complexity.

©2017 The University of Chicago (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The wonder is that, given her book's richness, Walls still leaves the reader eager to read Thoreau. Her scholarly blockbuster is an awesome achievement, a merger of comprehensiveness in content with pleasure in reading." ( Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

What listeners say about Henry David Thoreau

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Good book. Terrible narration.

I think this book is well written but the narration is making it difficult to get through.

4 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written and read!

I “Thoreauly” enjoyed this book and will listen to it again and again! Well written and well read.

3 people found this helpful

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Really enjoyable listen/ book

Thoreau is a much more complex figure than his reputation supposes. He was so immersed in every facet of his existence and the world around him. He was often aloof and contradictory but always curious and introspective. He was the perfect compliment to Emerson whose amazing work sometimes lacked the heart and earnestness found in Thoreau.
HDT is a great contributor to science, literature, America and humanity- for all his warts and self admitted shortcomings he was truly a beautiful soul.
LDWs research is spectacular and insightful (you can tell she could have written easily 2,000 pages on her subject). She puts Thoreau into the context of the community and the nation with skill and grace.
Paul B is quite a skilled reader.
I highly recommend giving this book a go if you have any interest in this fascinating time and most amazing character in American and world history.

1 person found this helpful

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If you like Thoreau, you will LOVE this book.

The author must have spent untold hours on her research for this book. It is very good and thorough. And she presents the information in a superbly fascinating manner. It was not just a biography on Thoreau, it was a history of the United States back in that time. I highly recommend this selection.

1 person found this helpful

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Way too long and plodding.

This could have been told in 4-5 hours. What could have been interesting was lost in a monotone detail.

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Excellent

A fresh look at the life and times of my favorite author from the perspective of a naturalist.

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Not Attention Grabbing

This book is well written from the standpoint of information. It is well organized and full of amazing facts that would have been hard to assemble. My only issue with it was that it was not captivating. My mind wandered and I felt like when it did, I didn’t need to go back because I hadn’t really missed a whole lot that would detract from the story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Barbara P
  • 01-20-18

A revelation Thoreau a Life

Having just completed the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson "Mind on Fire " it seemed imperative to get to know his life- long companion and contemporary - Henry David Thoreau - together so effectively describing early America - the Native American tragedy / the horrors of slavery and the struggle for abolition
The two books back to back make an entirely gripping and educating saga of a period in American history I had poorly understood
The Emerson was a massively complex reading list woven around a great life / but it was the sensitive/ nature loving Thoreau / whose deep understanding of the pattern of the Universe came to him through acute observation of the natural world around him - faithfully recorded day by day for all his tragically I short life / that hits home and captures transcendence of ordinary life - over and above the banal and ordinary world of daily experience
Both these books offer extraordinary insights and because of their depth and breadth of detail / invite repeated
visits and a truly illuminating insight into American history

2 people found this helpful

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  • AWK
  • 12-08-17

Good overview with errors

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, give a good introduction to the period and group of transendentalists

What did you like best about this story?

The overview of many of Thoreau's writings.

Any additional comments?

The author makes a rather bad error in confusing the Lawrence Kansas Sacking where no one was murdered and the Lawrence Kansas Massacre and uses it as a reason for John Brown's rebellion. She is very good on the slavery issue as it affected the citizens of Concord. How the citizens including Thoreau fought against the government's inhuman edicts.

2 people found this helpful