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Om Pine Barrens
Most people think of the American state of New Jersey as a suburban-industrial corridor that sits just west of New York City. But in the centre of the state lies a vast wilderness - larger than most national parks - which has been known since the seventeenth century as the Pine Barrens. The term refers to the predominant trees in the vast forests that cover the area and to the quality of the soils below, which are too sandy and acidic for farming. But below its soil rests a 17 trillion gallon aquifer which contains some of the purest water in the country, leading it to become reconginsed as both a national and an international preserve. Although New Jersey has the heaviest population density of any state in the US, huge segments of the Pine Barrens are uninhabited. The few people who do dwell in the region, the 'Pineys', are little known and often misunderstood.In The Pine Barrens, McPhee uses his uncanny skills as a journalist to explore the history of the region and to describe the people - and their distinctive folklore - who call it home. Including one who can navigate the immensely dense woods by sheer memory, and another who responds to McPhee's knock on his doorwith a pork chop in one hand, a raw onion in the other, and the greeting 'Come in. Come in. Come on the hell in.'