Sunday, August 15, 2010

Early American Summer Camps


 A little late in the summer, but this relatively new book caught my eye,

First introduced to the North American landscape in the 1880s, camps were part of a back-to-nature trend that had been developing on both sides of the Atlantic since the middle of the 19th century. In this respect, they are like urban parks, residential suburbs, resort hotels, and national parks, all institutions aimed at providing respite from what were regarded as the moral and physical degradations of urban life, evils to which women and children were understood to be particularly prone.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks, Gintaras. This looks like something I'd really like.

    I have read parts of this one -- fascinating!

    http://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Nature-American-History-Culture/dp/0814767826

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  2. Great slide show associated with that review you linked:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2146140/slideshow/2146081/

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  3. In the early 1960s, I went to a one-week Methodist camp in south Jersey, called Malaga. It still exists today. I also did some camping with the Girl Scouts, but that's not really summer camp.

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  4. This looks right up my alley!

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  5. Check out the Children's Nature, too. While this one appears to focus on the construction of nature in the camps (like the "construction" of our national parks), the other talks about what actually happens at the camps -- playing as Indians, taking on other racial identities, etc. Fascinating topic and one that I hadn't given much thought to.

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  6. I have the last chapter left in"Empire of the Summer Moon" and though I'm tempted to jump right into "Comanche Empire" which looks to be more in depth about the history of the Tribe I think my next non-fiction will be "Twain's Feast" which is part history or Heinrich's"Summer World" which is nature.My current Fiction read"The Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood" is excellent.Just finished the story"The Wendigo" and it's the kind of story to scare the bejesus out of you if it was read campfire side.They aren't so much ghost stories as they are for the most part stories about the tricks or not the human mind can play when confronted with raw untamed nature.I can see that Lovecraft was really influenced by Blackwood.

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  7. I just took a side trip into Lovecraft-ish territory by reading China Mieville's The Iron Council." That fellow has a giant imagination and a vocabulary to match.

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  8. I've started reading Taylor Branch's book about the Clinton Tapes. This is quite good and I wonder why I took this long to get to it. But I've interrupted it with a light one from the library that came through for me (ebook) -- Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith.

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  9. I think it's Donot who is a big fan of McCall Smith. People really love his work. Clinton is smart even when you don't agree with him, so I'm sure reading about his take on history would be fascinating.

    There's a very good profile of Obama -- sort of a day in the life -- in this month's Vanity Fair. Finally my $10 subscription has paid off.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/09/broken-washington-201009

    What did you think of Commanche Moon, Bo? It got a rave review in the NY Times, but sounds like it may not be that good? I just looked at Commanche Empire -- now that looks fascinating! Interesting to see historians look at Native tribes as independent nations rather than just victims of US imperialism. The Sioux nation would probably be an interesting subject to look at that way, too, since it was so powerful. (All the jokes on the Crow reservation are about the Sioux -- they still consider them in some ways their long-time enemy.)

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  10. Avrds, Alexander McCall Smith published "Corduroy Mansions" on his web site a while back, a chapter at a time. I read a few but the book seemed a bit "sweet" to me and I dropped out. Perhaps I gave up too soon? I really favor his Botswana novels the best, although a runner up would be the first two he wrote about the folks living at 44 Scotland St, all about Bernie the world's neatest five year old kid and his trials living with the world's worst mom and weak kneed dad.

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  11. I liked the Botswana novels and also the tv series (let's hear it for Netflix). I was quite sorry that some folks didn't seem to "get" the premise and why they didn't like Jill Scott is beyond me. I found the visual contrast of modern life and the bush intermingled well worth considering.

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  12. Empire of the Summer Moon was a nice read but it was pretty general on a broad subject.Dealt with the white side of the family,the Comanche side,other Indian Tribes in passing and Parkers life once on the Reservation.It did not really delve deeply into the whole Comanche tribe other than the different bands and Chiefs.I liked it but if one is looking for an in depth history of the tribe Comanche Empire looks to be that book.Decided on Twain's Feast and read the inro before it got to dark to read outside.

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  13. LARCH! Good to see you here!

    Bo, I noticed I got the title wrong. It's interesting how some of these books get rave reviews but have little to really say. Like the reviews of Brinkley's book on Roosevelt, it's probably because the reviewers really don't have any background in what they are reviewing.

    My favorite reviewer is Jonathan Yardley. They don't write reviews like this very often anymore:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/05/AR2010030501716.html

    I noted to Strether that Kakutani raved about the new Franzen book, which is generally the kiss of death for me. But I would really like to take a break and read a good big award-winning novel. Hopefully this will be one.

    And I find Hitchens pretty much insufferable, but smart, so am still pretty sure I'm taking his latest one along with me, too.

    Twain's Feast sounds perfect! I'm really looking forward to the autobiography.

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  14. Corduroy Mansions is most like Smith's 44 Scotland Street series (set in London), but I think it's much more humorous. I saw that Corduroy Mansions was available from NYPL's ebooks with a short wait, so I requested it.

    The Botswana books were his best, and I loved the TV series.

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  15. Marti, so glad I'm not alone in liking the TV series. Idris Elba had just a small bad guy role in one of the shows, but he is so good looking (the beautiful narcotics gang leader in The Wire) seeing him was a three minute treat.

    ps: I went to Methodist camp too.

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