A strikingly original debut from a tremendous new talent, Robert Moor explores how trails help us understand the world, from the biological phenomenon of how ant trails are formed to hiking paths that span continents and oceans, from migration routes to the Internet.
In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: 'How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others devolve? What makes us follow or strike off on our own?' Over the course of the next seven years, Moor travelled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive. He learned the tricks of master trail-builders, hunted down long-lost Cherokee trails, and traced the origins of our road networks and the Internet.
In each chapter, Moor interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing. This deep search for meaning introduces the reader to experts who work with trails of all kind, outrageous anecdotes from his own experiences and spectacular descriptions of landscapes and animal behavior. On Trails gives an eye-opening tour, leaving us with a much richer, prismatic take on what we constantly take for granted: how we get where we're going.
Please note that this book was published in hardback with the title On Trails: From Anthills to the Alps, How Trails Make Sense of a Chaotic World
"Mr Moor's narrative is grounded by his passion for the story of the Appalachain Trail [...] the author returns again and again to the tale of this meandering, flawed and yet alluring path. In doing so, he leads the reader on page by page. A wanderer's dream, even from an armchair."
– Economist, 2016-08-06
"On Trails by Robert Moor is making me want to quit my life and walk the Appalachian trail. It's an incredible history of why we walk in the paths and roads we do, talking about ants, elephants, mountains and getting lost."
"The thicket of information here comes to resemble a densely wooded trail itself – one that Mr. Moor expertly navigates. He's a philosopher on foot, recording his journey through miles of wilderness and through a mind sorting out the meaning of travel itself."
– Wall Street Journal
"we at Wanderlust Tower are fond of a good trail. But while we've occasionally pondered why we're on these tracks, it's taken Robert Moor to weave these ideas into a philosophy. His thought-provoking On Trails takes him around the globe, finding trails that we walk and create [...]"
"A strikingly original debut from a tremendous new talent, Robert Moor explores how trails help us understand the world, from the biological phenomenon of how ant trails are formed to hiking paths that span continents – from migration routes to the Internet. The perfect book for armchair travellers for whom five month hikes might be a step too far."
– Tim O'Kelly One Tree Books
"Part natural history, part scientific inquiry, but most of all a deeply thoughtful human meditation on how we walk through life, Moor's book is enchanting."
– The Boston Globe
"A wondrous non-fiction debut [...] an exhilarating journey. His wanderings are always grounded in the experience of human connection: strange, sudden friendships and quiet gestures of compassion on the trail."
– Departures magazine
"Fascinating debut [...] Following Moor's trails in this book opens many fascinating vistas"
– The Seattle Times
"Spectacular [...] an example of narrative nonfiction at its finest. Those with a passion for walking, hiking or exploring will be naturally drawn to Moor's subject, but this is so much more than a subject-specific story; it is a book that poses big questions about humanity's place in the world (literally and figuratively) and how we've come to be here – and it's fascinating to its very end."
– Shelf Awareness
"Hanging with [Moor] you meet a host of different byways, get in (and out) of trouble and the experience is not just enlightening, it's sweaty, hot, cold and [...] well, to say it plainly [...] fun."
– National Geographic
"On Trails is an engaging blend of travelogue, sociology, history and philosophy that might be summed up as a meditation on the centrality of trails to animal and human life [...] . Moor's prose makes him such good company that the reader is happy to keep pace."
– Washington Post
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Robert Moor lives in the Pacific Northwest. He has written for the New Yorker, New York, n+1, Men's Journal, The New York Observer, GQ.com, DownEast, OnEarth, and The Brooklyn Rail.