Arts & Leisure

Book review: Swamplands: Tundra beavers, quaking bogs and the improbable world of peat — by Edward Struzik

(Island Press)

Tamarack trees, which grow in peatland forests and also on islands of mounded peat, need 300 years to reach seven feet in height. Red wolves, like the mountain bog turtle and the southern bog lemming, are relics of the Last Glacial Period, and shared the tundra-like environment of the Albemarle region of North Carolina, near the Uwharrie Mountains, with mastodons, mammoths, bison and 17-foot-long sloths. The Great Dismal swamp was once a refuge for legions of escaped enslaved peoples. If facts like these fascinate you, then Swamplands is the book for you. A book that starts off with a naturalist’s observations about the flora and fauna of fens and bogs, becomes a sweeping cultural exploration as well, exploring the history of the Great Dismal Swamp and the draining of Central Park. I fell in love with this book from the introduction with Scottish poet Donald S. Murray’s poem opening line, “Sphagnum moss remembers…” Readers will come away with a vivid understanding of and new appreciation for the swamps, fens, bogs, peat, peat lands and wetlands of this country and their critical importance in the ecosystem. You’ll have to read it to find out about tundra beavers…

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons. Connect with her on Instagram @jennysbookshop to find more great book reviews and recommendations. Look for these titles and more at your local bookstore.

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Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid, by Thor Hanson

The Arbornaut, by Meg Lowman

Underland, by Robert MacFarlane

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan

The Gulf, by Jack E. Davis

The Living Mountain, by Nan Shepherd

Desert Chrome, by Kathryn Wilder

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