--The Wall Street Journal
"The best outdoors book of the year. ... An outstanding work that should be read by anyone who has spent time following a footpath through the woods. Robert Moor's debut book, On Trails, trips through natural history, anthropology, gonzo reporter's adventures, and memoir in a ramble that unpacks the many meanings of the routes we humans and other animals sketch on the land. ... The prologue alone is worth the price of admission: a nearly-30-page set piece about hiking the A.T. that puts Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed to shame. (Moor actually, you know, completed the full thru-hike.)"
"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 wanderer's dream, even from an armchair."
"Stunning ... a wondrous nonfiction debut. ... In each chapter, Moor explores the same phenomenon in a surprising new context, from the fossilized traces of prehistoric smudges to swaths of jungle flattened by elephants, from the paths of nomadic Native Americans to the interstates that paved them over. Along the way, Moor reaches into the history of science, religion, and philosophy to trace similar lines of refinement in the amassing of knowledge and ideas. ... It's an exhilarating journey."
"You might think of Robert Moor as the Roger Angell of trail-walking. Just as Angell's reports on specific baseball games segue effortlessly into reflections on the venerable sport itself, so Moor looks up from whatever trail he may be on to see the big picture. Which is often very big, indeed. ... Highly satisfying ... 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."
--The Washington Post
"This book is about so many things: about breaking down the binary between 'humanity' and 'nature, ' 'civilization' and 'the wild.' It's an exploration of exploring, a philosophical-psychological-journalistic adventure in the tradition of Michael Pollan and Rebecca Solnit. ... Not all who wander are lost, and Moor helps us see what they seek."
--New York Magazine
"Moor's writing compares better with wilderness philosophers like Annie Dillard or Edward Abbey. Each chapter of this GQ writer's debut work is packed with ideas, switchbacking to and fro. Each idea is so carefully portrayed and deeply fascinating that I had to stop and catch my breath often. ... It's a beautiful trek through the human and natural landscapes of modern life."
--Chicago Review of Books
"A beautiful thing to behold. ... what a profoundly talented writer Moor is. He brings a keen essayist's eye to themes both personal and empiric; his prose is lush and lively and his analysis adroit -- all making On Trails a true treat to read."
"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."
From a talent who’s been compared to Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey, David Quammen, and Jared Diamond, On Trails is a wondrous exploration of how trails help us understand the world—from invisible ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet.
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 fade? What makes us follow or strike off on our own? Over the course of seven years, Moor traveled 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.
Throughout, Moor reveals how this single topic—the oft-overlooked trail—sheds new light on a wealth of age-old questions: How does order emerge out of chaos? How did animals first crawl forth from the seas and spread across continents? How has humanity’s relationship with nature and technology shaped world around us? And, ultimately, how does each of us pick a path through life?
Moor has the essayist’s gift for making new connections, the adventurer’s love for paths untaken, and the philosopher’s knack for asking big questions. With a breathtaking arc that spans from the dawn of animal life to the digital era, On Trails is a book that makes us see our world, our history, our species, and our ways of life anew.