Just released by Johns Hopkins University Press, my book, Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard, is now available for order through your favorite local bookstore, or via internet retailers Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s Books. It is also a History Book Club selection.
From the History Book Club website:
Most people forget about the legend of Johnny Appleseed after childhood—but the man behind the myth was a significant figure in the agricultural development of early America. In Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard, William Kerrigan illuminates John Chapman’s life and reveals the environmental and cultural significance of the plant he propagated. Drawing on oral histories and material from archives and historical societies, he dissects the Appleseed myth, creating an eye-opening new portrait of the eccentric apple tree planter.
Known for his gentleness and self sacrifice, Johnny Appleseed stands apart from quintessentially masculine frontier heroes like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. His apple trees, nonetheless, were a central part of the transformation of the West. Chapman, who planted trees from seed rather than grafting, came under assault from those who promoted commercial fruit stock and were determined to extend national markets into the West. He had taken a side in a culture war that ultimately transformed him into a curious relic of a pre-market era.
Tracing Chapman’s life from seedling planter to national legend, Kerrigan casts new light on the landscape of early America.