Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize
Changes in the Land offers an original and persuasive interpretation of the changing circumstances in New England's plant and animal communities that occurred with the shift from Indian to European dominance. With the tools of both historian and ecologist, Cronon constructs an interdisciplinary analysis of how the land and the people influenced one another, and how that complex web of relationships shaped New England's communities.
Much historical writing is far more concerned with the players than the stage: narratives of kings and cabbage-merchants, although acted out in fields and forests, typically include nature only as a convenient prop to provide the occasional splash of color. In Changes in the Land
, Cronon treats the land of New England with the same sensitivity and attention to detail as the lives of the American natives and the colonists--he depicts the effects of changing land-use patterns on the texture of the New England landscape, and gives voice to the changing communities of trees, rock walls, and rivers. The chapter on the effects of changing notions of "property" on the ecology of New England are especially strong.
Changes in the Land is almost the equal of Cronon's masterpiece, Nature's Metropolis, a monumental study of the ecological effects of Chicago on the entire central portion of the United States in the 1800s. Highly Recommended to specialists and general readers alike.