For young readers, this will personalize Thoreau the man who wrote Walden and add credit to Charles Norman's varied record-which has included an excellent life of Shakespeare, The Playmaker of Avon (McKay, 1949). It is a quiet biography, as quiet as Thoreau himself and quite simply takes him through his life, thoughts and the writings that made him a leader among the New England philosophers. A skillful combination of narrative and literary comment starts with a picture of Thoreau at Walden. Backflashing then, we see him as a youth in Concord and at Harvard, his growing sense of solitude furthered by an unrequited love. As a free thinker, his career as a teacher was short lived, but he went on to become the friend of Emerson, of Whitman, of nature and of society. A dignified tribute to the man of terse truths and basic elements.