by Russell Steven Powell, 214 pages, 7¼x7¼, hardcover. Apples were planted in New England as far back as 1604 when the French explorer Pierre du Gua, the sieur de Monts, started an orchard on St Croix Island just south of Castine. From the beginning of European settlement, apples and cider played a great role in making life here palatable. People who lit out for the territories carried apple seeds with them, concerned less about the varieties they were carrying than the potential of those seeds to supply food and drink. The cultivation was so intense that Don Bussey’s recent seven-volume encyclopedia, The Illustrated History of Apples in North America, catalogs 17,000 varieties. Much shorter than Bussey’s opus, with descriptions of 162 varieties of historic or commercial importance to New England, this book is a pleasure. It’s a well-written brief, but dense, history of apples and the folks who spread them throughout New England. A handy guide for exploring and rediscovering our apple heritage. -David Shipman
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