Maine: The Wilder Half of New England
William David Barry
Paperback, $30, ISBN 978-0-88448-333-5
8 x 10, 304 pages, 200 photos & illustrations
"Many books have already been written about Maine's unique state history, but few have been as entertaining and insightful as Maine: The Wilder Half of New England, by William David Barry. Barry is an author and historian, lives in Portland, and clearly loves all aspects of Maine's rich history . . . . This is not just a chronological list of events, but rather a human history of war, hardship, innovation, social awareness, political activism, pursuit of the arts, and the remarkable resilience of Maine people."
—Bill Bushnell, Central Maine Newspapers
"William David Barry's lively history of the state of Maine spans nearly 500 years. It begins with the 'almost vaudevillian' encounter between navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano and the native inhabitants of 'the rocky shore of Maine,' who greeted Verrazzano with 'blood-curdling shouts, derisive laughter, bared bottoms, and leisurely volleys of arrows.'
"The book concludes with an overview of the many cultural and political changes of recent years, including the decline of the pulp and paper industry and 'old-style agriculture' and the influx of non-European immigrants. Barry comments that the last decade 'has been characterized by asking hard questions and reexamining values and goals that seemed obvious in the postwar era and less so in the last of the twentieth century.'
". . . an accurate, articulate, informative, insightful, and visually attractive account of Maine for the twenty-first century."
—Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., Maine State Historian
This is a concise, solid, and surprising overview of 500 years of Maine history, from first contact between Native Americans and European explorers to the achievement of a Down East identity, national political power, and worldwide cultural identification. Almost the size of the rest of New England, Maine was the first colonized and is the most forested, sparsely settled, and perhaps, the most independent-minded of New England states. Changes in the economy, religion, ethnicity, arts, leisure, and education have all shaped Maine and Mainers, with some intriguing results.
Illustrated with well over 200 images drawn from the collections of the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, Special Collections at the Portland Public Library, the Maine State Museum, local historical societies, private collections, and even the Vatican, these pages contain many rare and fascinating drawings, paintings, and photographs. The bibliography is a rich resource for exploring Maine history further.
William David Barry, historian, writer, exhibition curator, and native New Englander, has written or co-authored books with a local focus ranging in topic from the Colonial mast trade, to the care of orphans in Maine institutions, L.L. Bean, Inc., the early HIV/AIDS crisis in Maine, and the "lost" city of Deering, Maine. In 1983 he collaborated with life-long friend Randolph Dominic on the historical novel Pyrrhus Venture (Atlantic Monthly–Little Brown). He has written essays and reviews for Down East Magazine, Portland Magazine, Magazine Antique, Art New England, and the Maine Sunday Telegram, and guest-curated over a dozen exhibitions for organizations including the University of Southern Maine, New Hampshire Historical Society, Barridoff Galleries, and the Brick Store Museum. In his spare time he co-authored monographs of architectural interest for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and of business successes for the Newcomen Society. In 2005 the Trustees of the Maine Historical Society awarded Barry the prestigious Neal Allen, Jr., Award "for outstanding contributions to the field of Maine history." In tandem with his freelance career Barry has worked as a reference librarian at the Portland Public Library and since 1994 at the Maine Historical Society's Brown Library. He lives in Portland with his wife and amanuensis, Debra, and an elderly cat, Keegan.
Tilbury House, Publishers
103 Brunswick Avenue
Gardiner, Maine 04345