This review can also be found in the Canon City Daily Record.
July and August are peak camping months in Colorado's mountains- what a perfect opportunity to dive into the history of camping. Now, don't panic! I said history, but I didn't mean dry, humorless and impersonal. Far from it! Dan White considers himself a "history minded camping fanatic." He's already written a book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. But now, this enthusiastic writer has provided audiences with another work: "Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping," an "irreverent history of American camping," in which White attempts to imitate each epoch of camping himself. While amusing and personable - unexpected and fascinating - it is also well-researched and documented.
Without being sentimental or whimsical, Dan White explores the movement from necessary outdoor sleeping and traveling to recreation and planned vacations. Beginning with Thoreau and the idea of man "finding himself" in the woods, we are invited to journey through the Golden Age of camping (1880s - 1930s) to the beginnings of the Boy Scouts of America. Then we visit women and their role in camping and participate in the creation of national parks. Finally, he takes us into more recent times with car camping, the Wilderness Act, "Leave No Trace," glamping and RV/trailer camping.
"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. He strives to make each of his singular forays into the past precise. Though quite experienced in camping and backpacking, the author does not pretend to be an expert. Instead, we absorb his passion for camping in all of its forms - past and present - in its best and worst facets. Sparing no details, he writes about the beauties and the foibles that come from an activity that was not meant to be fun in the first place. We are educated and entertained.
Dan White travels across the United States to discover what American camping really is and why we are drawn to this sport. His adventures are varied and fascinating - he camps in the nude in known cougar territory, tags along on an inner-city girls-only trip into the Everglades, carries waste out of the woods in a device he invented, and rents his very first RV to find out what all the excitement is about.
With his joyful daughter, and sometimes reluctant wife at his side, White encourages us to camp, to think about what camping means to us as Americans, and to consider all aspects of law and science in our native wilderness.
Photo Credit: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/518mX7lovGL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.