Thoreau espoused a simple way of life that exemplifies the American spirit of self-sufficiency and thrift advocated by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The true measure of Thoreau’s success is the influence he had on the moral and social philosophy of scores of famous Americans, as well as intellectuals in other parts of the world. North’s biography seeks to inform its readers how unique this stoic New Englander truly was.
The book incorporates Thoreau’s own lively and vivid prose to describe his tour of the Concord and Merrimack rivers and his simple existence at Walden Pond. This technique gives readers a personal view of Thoreau’s philosophy and encourages readers to delve into the author’s original works.