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REVIEWS153 There are a few minor flaws in the volume. The Subject Index could be more complete. There are four indices, one for authors, which is of less interest to the student or the reference user than a more thorough Subject Index would be. Also included are the People, Agencies, and Organizations Index and the Place Index. However, when I tried to look up all references to sweet potatoes, they were not listed, nor were other subjects that users might need to find quickly. Another flaw is in the printing of Color Plate 1.14, Land Cover. It looks as if the four forest types, marshes, and water layers were not included. Aside from these minor complaints, North Carolina: People and Environments, second edition, is a tremendous achievement and an important collection of geographic information about our rapidly changing state. It will make a wonderful text for a North Carolina Geography course, which is, of course, one of the authors' intents. Ifstudents cannot findjust the right bit ofinformation about the state within the 559 pages of text, they can refer to its extensive bibliography. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. Janisse Ray. Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, MN 1999. 294 pp. photographs, appendixes. $14.92 paper (ISBN 1-57131247 -1). Carl T. Dahlman Driving across the flat coastal plain of the Southeast, through the tall pine stands and open clearings, one might conclude that Janisse Ray's first sentence is wasted ink: "In south Georgia everything is flat and wide." Though many readers will have experienced a sense ofthis ignoble piney vastness, no doubt rushing to the alluring mountains or sea, Ray gives pause to—indeed takes to task—our disinterest . At once a naturalist's lyrical understanding ofthe vanishing longleafpine forest, it is also a meditation on the use of the land and the author's own self-described "cracker" culture to be found there. It is, in fact, Ray's reclamation project ofthat identity, as much as the reclamation ofthe longleafhabitat she loves, that makes less shocking the book's title while justifying its thesis, laid out in her second sentence like a road sign to the landscape she leads us through: "Not empty." Ecology ofa Cracker Childhood presents, through 33 alternating chapters, the enigmatic cycles of the longleaf pine as species and habitat, and Ray's memoir of her family and childhood near Baxley in south Georgia. Her carefully constructed Dr. Dahlman is Assistant Professor in the Department ofGeography at the University ofSouth Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208. E-mail: dahlman@sc.edu. 154REVIEWS description of life in the rural South expresses the subtle realities of a childhood spent in a close-knit family, untangling a beautiful imagination discovered while playing in the large junkyard that was her father's business. But one could just as easily describe her writing on the longleaf pine as a memoir of the life of a forest, here untangling beautiful subtlety from the forest mistakenly thought common and poor, while the generations of her family cycle through poverty, mental illness, and a vanishing appreciation for the natural world around them. What remains constant in Ray's memoir of pines and family is a desire to preserve and recover the longleaf pine ecosystem that, by her telling at least, has suffered from the cracker's forgetting ofnature. Ultimately, Ray is trying to reconcile the ecology ofher childhood, at least metaphorically represented by a junkyard but more recognizable as her family, with the loss ofthe native forest. "Although my grandfather took to wilderness for solace to ease his wracked mind, my father turned to machines, and somewhere, between the two of them, the thread of nature was lost .... So much for tradition .... So much for the woods" (pp. 96-97). With every other chapter on the ecology of the longleaf pine, Ray takes a free hand in describing nature without losing much detail in the life of a forest. These typically short interludes begin with descriptions of the receding longleaf habitat on the coastal plain, the environmental history of longleaf's fire dependence written in a myth-like timbre, and the forest's use, abuse, and replacement. Later chapters describe the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, indigo...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1549-6929
Print ISSN
0038-366X
Pages
pp. 153-155
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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