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Publisher's Summary

From a brilliant new literary voice comes a groundbreaking exploration of how trails help us understand the world, from tiny ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet. In 2009, while hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others fade? What makes us follow or strike off on our own? Over the course of the next seven years, Moor traveled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive. He learned the tricks of master trail-builders, hunted down long-lost Cherokee trails, and traced the origins of our road networks and the Internet. In each chapter, Moor interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing-combining the nomadic joys of Peter Matthiessen with the eclectic wisdom of Lewis Hyde's The Gift. Throughout, Moor reveals how this single topic - the oft-overlooked trail - sheds new light on a wealth of age-old questions: How does order emerge out of chaos? How did animals first crawl forth from the seas and spread across continents? How has humanity's relationship with nature and technology shaped world around us? And, ultimately, how does each of us pick a path through life? Moor has the essayist's gift for making new connections, the adventurer's love for paths untaken, and the philosopher's knack for asking big questions. With a breathtaking arc that spans from the dawn of animal life to the digital era, On Trails is a book that makes us see our world, our history, our species, and our ways of life anew.

©2016 Simon & Schuster (P)2016 Audiobooks.com Publishing

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Dear narrator...

Please rethink your use of accents for quotes forever. They were at best very distracting and likely insulting to the originators of the dialogue.

Otherwise this book is fantastic. I highly recommend it to anyone who gets to wondering about a topic and wants to think about all there is to know about it and how it all fits together in a bigger picture.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Terrible narrator

The narrator spent the whole time attempting to showboat and Treated the book as a performance reel. His insistence on using accents was already annoying, but then half the time the accent being used wasnt even appropriate to the speaker. It was very frustrating.

There were additional editing errors- repeated sentences, uneven volume (normalize your sound guys).

I recommend the book but not the audio.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • kgohl
  • WORCESTER, VT, United States
  • 10-13-16

Narrator is a distraction

On Trails is a well-written volume read by someone who uses accents to indicate when the author is quoting from another volume. At first this practice just seems odd because the narrator speaks in a southern U.S. accent for a number of quotations, including the words of someone I thought was a researcher in Montreal. Then he moves on to a German accent, and the whole thing just becomes annoying. This is nonfiction; it is not the narrator's job to create a character from a quotation. I hope this is not a direction in which Audible intends to move.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Worth reading, not worth listening to.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator doesn't seem to take the subject or the people seriously. He has a tongue-in-cheek style that undercuts the text. But the worst aspect is what others have already pointed out - the narrator finds it necessary to bring life to the various people by imitating what he presumes they sound like. It is maddening to endure. At worst it even seems a bit degrading.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Book - needs a bit more audio editing!

Very enjoyable book! There were a few instances of audio editing issues, where the reader read the same sentence twice in a row and both readings were included in the final product, but a wonderful book and a great reader over all (reader even did all the voices - lol!)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 09-28-16

illuminated by a closer look

Robert Moor did a great job of digging into what trails are about. The book was a combination of history, geology, adventure and science...all related to getting from here to there. I'll never look at a trail the same way again!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

great book

an amazing array of insight and sited resources, his perspective is refreshing and unique. I've unfortunately added about 100 new books (he has spoken of) to the list more reading I need to do.

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This is a great book

I recommend it. This is more than just a “trail” book, actually as much exploration as trail.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ex
  • 03-09-18

interesting, but the reader does voices :(

some very interesting thought given to trails (both real and symbolic) and how they lead humans into new territories (real and intellectual).

certainly challenges the common perspective of nature vs. civilization in a profound way, also expounding on why that is so troublesome.

the reader, however, does a lot of random voices for people - not just those he may know, but of people whose voices we never would have heard (18th century philosophers for example).

it's kind of annoying.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging, With Good Human Anecdotes

Progresses through the trails of microbes to insects to prehistoric animals to current animals and then humans, focusing on the Appalachian Trail and its international extension, though he covers others near the end.

The narrator employed an unusual feature, taking on the regional and international English accents of the various people in the vignettes. You get used to it, and he is good at it.

There will be stand-out moments, and they will be the human anecdotes, from the house in Morocco to the old man at the end.

A particularly stick-in-the-mind moment was when he was addressing a park service gathering of kids about the geology, and he was mentioning rocks that were (a mere) two million years old, and the lady in charge of the kids came up and grabbed the mic (just imagine the audacity of that alone), and told the kids, "He meant to say two-thousand years old" (to fit Christian dogma). She the upbraided him for not respecting their beliefs.

He let it go at that, and I'm sure the lady's actions were so outrageous that he had no worked-out response at the ready. I did not let it go at that, and I had to ponder the correct response, which would have been:

"You are right, ma'am, I should give you your due regard, and here it is: No, kids, the rocks are two million years old. Now let me give you some wise life advice, kids: Get as far away from this wacko, mind-controlling cult lady as soon, and as fast, as you can, definitely when you grow up, and don't look back - because she does not have your best interest in mind - she does not have a grasp on reality, and she is trying to keep you ignorant and your minds in the dark so you will conform to what she has ignorantly conformed to, just to justify her ignorantly conforming to it."

I think I would have called Social Services on her, and the kid's parents, to see if they actually knew what kind of person they wrongly entrusted their kids to.

The author does occasionally venture into philosophy, but only casually and in passing, and the results were a good reflection of continued universal human cluelessness.