Reflections in Bullough's Pond

What follows is a short article describing the magnificent book entitled as this page is, above. It was first published in the year 2000 and has been faithfully reproduced for your information along with the cover artwork.

Economy and Ecosystem found in New England

From the vantage point of a convenient nearby pond in Newton, Massachusetts, Diana Muir Appelbaum reconstructs an intriguing interpretation of the natural history of New England and the people who had lived there since pre-Columbian times. By taking a radically new method to illustrate for general readers the vast inter-relationships between the natural ecology and human economics, Appelbaum weaves together a truly imaginative and dramatic account of the many changes, massive and subtle, that successive generations of humankind as well as such animals as sheep and beavers have worked upon the land.

Her compelling narrative takes the reader to a New England populated by many individuals struggling to eke out a living from a land ingenerously endowed by nature. Yankee history, she argues, comprised a string of ecological crises from which the sole means of escape was to create radical solutions to apparently unsolvable problems. Many young men and women coming of age back in the 1790s faced a bleak future.

During a time when farming was practically the only occupation, a burgeoning population suggested that there was just not enough land to go around. Even worse, such land as was available had been worn out by previous generations through careless use. Without prospects or options, young men such as Eli Whitney and Thomas Blanchard may have resigned themselves to little more than a life of poverty. Instead however, they set in motion an industrial revolution, the force of which astonished the entire world.

"Reflections in Bullough's Pond" is history recreated on a grand scale. Drawing on scholarships in fields ranging from archeology to zoology, Appelbaum offers a truly exhilarating tour of Paleolithic megafauna, that included the population crisis faced by natives of New England in the pre-Columbian era, the introduction of indoor plumbing, plus the invention of the shoe peg. Finally, at the end of this book we are able to understand ourselves and our world such as it is a little better.

May, 2000: University Press of New England (reproduced)

ISBN: 0874519098


"An extraordinary book, a fascinating combination of polemic and all-encompassing scholarship."
The Boston Globe

"A masterpiece. History as literature and something each and every New Englander should read."
The Providence Journal

"You may never look at New England the same way again."
Maine Sunday Telegram

"The intricate interweaving of seemingly unrelated human activity, ecosystems, responses and the human reaction to those responses, forms the strength of Bullough's Pond."
The Women's Reviews of Books

"This is a beautifully written and scholarly book. Highly recommended."
Sustainable Population

"A unique overview of New England's history during the last 400 years."
Conservation Perspectives

"Admirable environmental and economic history."
Publishers Weekly

"An altogether wonderful book, packed with good information, brimming with intuitive wisdom and a pure delight to read."

"This is history made palpable and personal."
Economic History Services

"A source book for everyone who cares about landscapes and technology."

"An intriguing book."
Environmental Practice

"A rich romp through New England's history."
Conservation Matters

"The author has done a masterly job turning a wide range of research findings into an absorbing narrative."
Cambridge Chronicle

Agricultural History, Vol. 76, No. 1 (Winter, 2002), pp. 134-135
A review by: Christopher McGrory Klyza

The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 63, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 607-608
A review by: Chad Montrie

The Women's Review of Books, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Jan., 2001), pp. 7-8
A review by: Jan Zita Grover

Environmental History, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Jul., 2001), pp. 487-488
A review by: Kathryn Morse

Massachusetts Historical Review, Vol. 3, (2001), pp. 138-145
A review by: Ted Steinberg


Massachusetts Book Award, Best Nonfiction Book

Associated News

David Warsh, the Globe's business columnist, praises 'Reflections' in his piece encouraging conservation efforts.
The Boston Globe, August 20, 2000

The story of the author and of the book.
The Newton Tab, July 1, 2000
'Reflections' wins the Massachusetts Book Award for best non-fiction book published in 2000.
The Daily News Tribune, December 14, 2001
The Boston Globe, December 9, 2001