Most people think of the American state of New Jersey as a suburban-industrial corridor that sits just west of New York City. Yet in the low centre of the state is a vast wilderness, larger than most national parks, which has been known since the 17th century as the Pine Barrens. The term refers to the predominant trees in the vast forests that cover the area and to the quality of the soils below, which are too sandy and acid to be good for farming. Developments of one kind or another have gradually moved in, so that now the central and integral forest is reduced to about a thousand square miles. Although New Jersey has the heaviest population density of any state, huge segments of the Pine Barrens remain uninhabited. The few people who dwell in the region, the ‘Pineys’ are little known and often misunderstood. Here McPhee explores the history of the region and describes the people who call it home.