Books, etc.

Benton MacKaye: Conservationist, Planner, and Creator of the Appalachian Trail (2002)

The definitive biography of the visionary American forester, regional planner, conservationist, and writer best known for his conception of the Appalachian Trail.

“Rich in detail (a sign of Anderson’s diligent research), and smart in analysis (an indication of his supple intellect), the book brings the often-quirky MacKaye to life. In weaving together his subject’s private worries and public activism, Anderson has given us a definitive and first full biographical treatment of MacKaye, a remarkable achievement.–Char Miller, Journal of Forestry

“In this first comprehensive biography of MacKaye, Larry Anderson does an impressive job of bringing an enigmatic figure into sharper focus and shedding light on the long list of contributions MacKaye made to the American environmental movement. . . . A readable, engrossing biography.”–Lucille Stott, Appalachia

“Anderson . . . has produced a detailed and sympathetic biography of visionary planner Benton MacKaye. . . . [A] readable life story.”–Planning

“Larry Anderson’s splendid biography of Benton MacKaye recounts the life of an American pioneer in regional and recreational planning, wilderness preservation, and environmental thought. . . .  A first-rate biography of a unique American thinker. Throughout, Anderson ably places MacKaye in political, cultural, and environmental contexts and reveals the reciprocal influences of MacKaye, Mumford, Stein, and others.”–Mark Harvey, Journal of American History

“As much a biography of MacKaye’s intellectual life as it is a life story. . . . It is unimaginable–after reading 400 pages of text and 50 pages of footnotes, scholarly in appearance and journalistic in approach–that an extant piece of writing about MacKaye has . . . escaped Anderson’s attentions.”–Brian B. King, Appalachian Trailway News

“Anderson’s book . . . provides fascinating glimpses of MacKaye’s modus operandi, as well as the rich period and its cast of planners and politicians.”–Jane Holtz Kay, Architectural Record

“[A] fascinating biography. . . . Anderson’s lucid, well-researched, and sensitive story provides an illuminating on-the-ground snapshot (or really, a running home video) of the inner workings of the intellectual networks, social relationships, governmental and business institutions, particular projects, and downright good and bad luck that constitute the fabric of historical movements such as conservation and regional planning. More important, for an elusive and amorphous figure such as MacKaye, biography provides the best (and sometimes the only) form of historical analysis, delving beneath the scatter of activities and associations to recover the coherent trajectory, character, and visions of the person himself, a task at which Anderson succeeds admirably.”–Steven J. Holmes, Environmental History

“Larry Anderson has written an excellent book, meticulously researched and well organized. The scholarship is impeccable. Environmental, intellectual, and planning historians will find this an invaluable addition to the literature.”–Paul S. Sutter, University of Colorado, author of Driven Wild: How the Fight Against the Automobile Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement

Available from:


Barnes & Noble

Johns Hopkins University Press

Powell’s Books

Peculiar Work: Writing about Benton MacKaye, Conservation, Community (2012)

A collection of articles, essays, and even a short story selected from my own writing since the late 1970s. Subjects include land conservation, wilderness, Benton MacKaye, hiking, community activism, the draft, small-town politics, and early Las Vegas.

Available from:


Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Barnes & Noble

Powell’s Books

How to Produce a Small Newspaper: A Guide for Independent Journalists (1978)

I contributed a few chapters to this book, along with my journalistic mentors and book-publishing partners Ed Miller and Kathleen Cushman, founders and editors of The Harvard Post, a lively weekly newspaper they published in Harvard, Massachusetts. “This fine book tells all and not a bit more,” wrote Stewart Brand in The Next Whole Earth Catalog. The book sold quite a few copies. Along with a lot of other newspapers, weekly and daily, The Harvard Post no longer survives, but the need for truly independent local journalism is more important than ever.

The book is out of print, but used copies are sometimes available at reasonable prices from:


Nature and Culture in the Northern Forest: Region, Heritage, and Environment in the Rural Northeast (2010), edited by Pavel Cenkl

This collection of essays originated from two conferences organized by Pavel Cenkl, a scholar at Vermont’s Sterling College. My essay in the book is titled “Benton MacKaye’s 1904 White Mountains Hike: Exploring a Landscape of Logging, ‘Camp Ethics,’ and Patriotism.”

The book is available from:


Barnes & Noble


Larry Anderson, “From Trauma to Dream: Benton MacKaye’s Troubled Path to the Appalachian Trail,” in A.T. Journeys, Fall 2021, pp. 42-48.

Larry Anderson, “A ‘Classic of the Green Mountains’: Benton MacKaye’s 1900 Hike Inspires Appalachian Trail,” Long Trail News, Spring 2013, pp. 8-10.

Larry Anderson, “Benton MacKaye and the Path to the First A.T. Conference,” in “Trail Years: A History of the Appalachian Trail Conference,” 75th Anniversary Issue, Appalachian Trailway News, July/August 2000, pp. 17-22.

Benton MacKaye, “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning,” Journal of the American Institute of Architects, October, 1921.