Walter Harding's biography of Henry David Thoreau is easily the most readable and thorough of the many accounts of his life. It represents an ideal blend of description and narrative with solid scholarship. Harding clearly explains what is known and how it is known, drawing from an extremely broad familiarity with the literature and with the many sources of information about Thoreau's life. He does not shy away from presenting the wide range of opinions about Thoreau, ranging from ridicule to idolization, but puts these opinions into context. He draws heavily upon Thoreau's own journals and writings in order to inject as much storytelling into the biography as possible, so that it never reads as if it were merely a dry work of scholarship. I found this to be a quite gripping read -- and finished it in just over a week, which happened to be a very busy week, during which I was always eager to return to it when I had a spare moment. As a result I have a very vivid portrait in my mind of Thoreau the man. Harding's book would be an excellent complement to Richardson's Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind. While Richardson's book focuses on the development of Thoreau as a thinker and a writer, Harding focuses on his development as a man. Both are highly recommended.