But ''The Adirondacks'' is not primarily about politics, or philosophy. Mr. Schneider, who has written for such publications as Audubon and Esquire, is first and foremost a teller of tales. His book is a roughly chronological, swiftly readable account of Indians and trappers, redcoats, hermits, magnates, reprobates and esthetes. It also drops the most interesting names. Almost everyone who spent any time in the Adirondacks is mentioned here: John Brown, J. P. Morgan, William James, Maxim Gorky - to pick a few.
This approach is all to the good. On a purely selfish level, I find Mr. Schneider's stories immensely satisfying. My family and I have spent parts of the last 20 summers in the Adirondacks. When you vacation there or live there year round, the lore can become almost as fascinating as the mountains, lakes and streams themselves. And on a more principled note, it seems only right, if this ''wilderness'' is a human invention, that the people have pride of place in its story.
The book is billed as a history, but it might be thought of as a biography of a place, a life of the Adirondacks. It starts with the arrival of Europeans on the boundaries of what is now the park and tracks subsequent periods of fur trapping, mining, logging and vacationing. This history is interspersed with vignettes from the present day, when logging and trapping still go on, and when the current vision of unspoiled wilderness is achieved, in part, by destroying old camps and poisoning unwanted fish to make the woods and ponds like new again, with certifiably native brook trout.
Causes Paul Schneider Supports
The usual suspects for a writer from Massachusetts, living on Martha's Vineyard no less.