The shantyboys were important American Frontiersmen with a way of life individually their own. From all parts of the country they came to work the endless pines; from the East Coast to the rapidly advancing West they blazed the trails that led to expansion. It was their labor that birthed a giant industry and helped build a nation from the…
Brian Hayes is one of the most accomplished essayists active today—a claim supported not only by his prolific and continuing high-quality output but also by such honors as the National Magazine Award for his commemorative Y2K essay titled "Clock of Ages," published in the November/December 1999 issue of The Sciences magazine. (The also-rans that year included Tom Wolfe, Verlyn Klinkenborg, and Oliver Sacks.) Hayes's work in this genre has also appeared in such anthologies as The BestAmerican Magazine Writing, The Best American Science and NatureWriting, and The Norton Reader. Here he offers us a selection of his most memorable and accessible pieces—including "Clock of Ages"—embellishing them with an overall, scene-setting preface, reconfigured illustrations, and a refreshingly self-critical "Afterthoughts" section appended to each essay.
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