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'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation' In 1845 Henry David Thoreau left his home town of Concord, Massachusetts to begin a new life alone, in a rough hut he built himself a mile and a half away on the north-west shore of Walden Pond. Walden is Thoreau's classic autobiographical account of this experiment in solitary living, his refusal to play by the rules of hard work and the accumulation of wealth and above all the freedom it gave him to adapt his living to the natural world around him. This new edition of Walden traces the sources of Thoreau's reading and thinking and considers the author in the context of his birthplace and his sense of its history - social, economic and natural. In addition, an ecological appendix provides modern identifications of the myriad plants and animals to which Thoreau gave increasingly close attention as he became acclimatized to his life in the woods by Walden Pond.