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Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping (Paperback)

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Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping By Dan White Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

A long-time Santa Cruz resident and the author of The Cactus Eaters, White dazzles with this funny and very engaging history of camping in America. From 19th-century woodcraft to backpacking to family tent camping to “glamping” (glamour camping, where your every outdoor need is met—for a price), he covers it all. The chapter in which he rents an RV and tries to drive his family across the backroads of Arizona is worth the price of admission alone.

— Rico


Wide-ranging in research, enthusiasm, and geography, Dan White's Under the Stars reveals a vast population of nature seekers, a country still in love with its wild places.

“The definitive book on camping in America. . . . A passionate, witty, and deeply engaging examination of why humans venture into the wild.”
Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

From the Sierras to the Adirondacks and the Everglades, Dan White travels the nation to experience firsthand—and sometimes face first—how the American wilderness transformed from the devil’s playground into a source of adventure, relaxation, and renewal.

Whether he’s camping nude in cougar country, being attacked by wildlife while “glamping,” or crashing a girls-only adventure for urban teens, Dan White seeks to animate the evolution of outdoor recreation. In the process, he demonstrates how the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Roosevelt, and Muir—along with visionaries such as Adirondack Murray, Horace Kephart, and Juliette Gordon Low—helped blaze a trail from Transcendentalism to Leave No Trace.

About the Author

Dan White is the author of The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind and Almost Found Myself on the Pacific Crest Trail, a NCIBA bestseller and Los Angeles Times "Discovery" selection. He has taught composition at Columbia University and San Jose State. He is the contributing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader and received his MFA from Columbia University. He lives in Santa Cruz, California with his wife and daughter.

Praise For…

“Dan White has written the definitive book on camping in America. Under the Stars is a passionate, witty, and deeply engaging examination of why humans venture into the wild.”
Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

“[A] chatty and entertaining history of self-conscious American attempts to set off into the wild….a sweet meditation on the intergenerational experience of camping.”
New York Times

“[A]n imaginative volume on the lure and legends of camping . . . . The result is an amusing, inviting look at the outdoors life and the men and women who have given life to camping.”
Wall Street Journal

“Whether sharing the backstory of everyone’s favorite fireside dessert (s’mores, of course), roughing it in the buff, or braving the wilderness with 21st-century amenities in tow, the disaster-prone White revels in a cherished national pastime—camping—with curiosity and humor.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“Sharply funny . . . an absorbing narrative of how camping became an American pastime.”
The Santa Cruz Sentinel

“Entertaining....[White] goes on to explore (and embrace)…the unpredictable beauty of sleeping under the stars.”
Houston Chronicle

Under the Stars is eloquent, witty and wide-ranging, covering everything from John Muir to the history of S'mores, with nude camping in cougar country tossed in.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers

“Light and humorous even as White explores social and cultural issues surrounding camping . . . . Engaging, featuring familiar and unknown characters, and White does justice to camping in all its forms . . . . A quite enjoyable stroll through the past, led by a talented writer who clearly appreciates the benefits of getting outside.”
Publishers Weekly

Under the Stars is historically accurate, with beautiful descriptions of flora and fauna. But what sells this book is the personal narrative, allowing history to become a lively backdrop. Dan White writes with a humble, self-deprecating, and conversational wit.”
The Story is Enough

“‘I never before had so interesting, hearty and manly a companion. I fairly fell in love with him.’ Yes, this is what John Muir said about Theodore Roosevelt, but I’m saying it now about Dan White after reading Under the Stars—an informative and lyrically written travel memoir about the American wilderness experience that’s also very funny and full of surprises.”
Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen

“Dan White’s history of Americans at play in the woods is far more than just good old raisins and peanuts. It's a delicious grab bag of oddball characters, scenic vistas, leaky pup tents, and scofflaw marmots, all recounted with a self-deprecating storyteller’s style that makes it roll along like a good old campfire yarn.”
Paul Schneider, author of The Adirondacks

“At least from the moment that W.H.H. Murray unleashed his army of ‘fools’ on the Adirondack backcountry, Americans have been trying to learn how to subsist happily in the woods. Dan White provides not only the history of camping, but also the present—marked always by a love for the wild places that remain.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home

“Pack your flashlight, pack your dog-eared Thoreau, pack your loincloth and your own biohazardous waste, and join Dan White on a rollicking through-hike of the wild, stirring, and weird past and present of the American campout.”
Hannah Nordhaus, author of American Ghost

“Whether you are a seasoned backcountry cragsman or prefer a crackling campfire in your own backyard, you will love this fascinating examination on how and why we search for ourselves in the wild. From the time of the great trailblazers to the modern reality of changing demographics in outdoor recreation, White takes us on a thoughtful, moving, funny, and even spiritual adventure through America’s relationship to nature.”
—Paul Rosolie, author of Mother of God

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250134974
ISBN-10: 1250134978
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 6th, 2017
Pages: 416
Language: English
ABA Admin Product Details
Data Source: ONIX
Created At: 8/21/2016 07:57am
Last Updated At: 2/15/2024 02:34am