Vermont Unveiled, Second Edition
by Jim C. Cunningham
© 1996 Naturist LIFE International, Inc.
100 pages, 8.5" x 11", softcover
l Want a book that will help you plan a skinny‑dipper's vacation in Vermont?
l Want a book that offers a clear explanation of nudism that's characterized by both New England practicality and world‑wise common sense?
l Want a book that makes an equally good read for veteran, novice and wistful social nudists, and "wanna be" alike?
l Want a book that's filled to overflowing with some of the most gorgeous photographs of people enjoying the timeless pleasure of skinny‑dipping?
Well, have I got the book for you!
My first thought before sitting down to read Jim's book was that it would be a lovely picture book with some solid travel advice for Vermont‑bound skinny‑dippers, but little more. The Second Edition of Vermont Unveiled (VU2) delivers wonderfully on these assumptions, to be sure, but I was delighted to discover that it also holds much in store for those like myself who may never get the chance to visit this part of the world except in our dreams. VU2 offers the traveler colorful descriptions in words and pictures of more than forty of Vermont's best skinny‑dipping sites. Also offered are several recommendations for nudist‑friendly accommodations near to some of these sites.
Jim begins his Prologue to VU2 thus:
"This book has two main purposes. First of all, it is a practical guide to many of the wonderful places you can go in the Green Mountain State to truly enjoy 'Vermont…naturally!' The second, but not lesser, reason, is to convincingly impart a gymnosophy…that I, and millions of others, have found very liberating and healthy in every way, both personally and socially, from spiritual and moral health to physical, psychological, and even social health. Here I impart this gymnosophy (or nudist philosophy) both in words and artful pictures, which are themselves worth thousands of words."
The extensive Prologue continues with a thorough treatment of many of the "whys and wherefores" of conservative social nudism. Unlike so many other nudist authors, Jim not only addresses the practical aspects but also the spiritual side of nudist practice. He makes no attempt to hide his strong Christian faith in these pages, and for that I am personally grateful. He frequently and successfully uses Scripture to demonstrate the basis for a proper and Godly view of the human body.
There is much that is autobiographical in this book. Jim relates many interesting experiences, ranging from how he long ago broached the subject of nudity to his soon‑to‑be wife Maggie, to how he and Maggie came to introduce the nudist lifestyle to a teacher who was at one time boarding with them. As one would expect, there are also many stories about family experiences at some of the skinny-dipping sites described in the book. All of these experiences are shared with candor and humor. As with life in general, much can be learned from "those who have gone before."
One problem that I have with many travel and nature books is that after reading them you're often left with the impression that Eden still exists. Experience has shown most of us that such places rarely measure up to the glowing language used to describe them. Thankfully, VU2 is not that kind of book. While the book paints a wonderful picture of Vermont's best skinny‑dipping sites, it doesn't do so by way of "sugar coating" them into something approaching perfection. Along with the good—and there is much that is good—Jim addresses the bad: the problem of gawkers, the dangers posed by the terrain at some sites, the fact that some places are "buggy" at certain times of the year, etc. Jim also laments the fact that many sites are less "nude" than they once were and suggests that they need to be "reclaimed" for nude use by visitors through unabashed yet considerate exposure of the body while sunning and swimming.
As if the travel tips, beautiful images and explorations of nudist philosophy aren't enough, Jim also includes some poetry as well as "Thinkers' Thoughts on Nudism," a collection of thought‑provoking quotations about the body and nakedness from an eclectic group of notables ranging from Michelangelo to Mark Twain to Pope John Paul II.
Finally (and this addresses a particular pet peeve of mine) there is at the end of VU2 a very thorough index. I can't tell you the number of times that I've read otherwise excellent books only to find that the author chose not to include an index which could be used to locate subjects of particular interest. VU2's index only serves to make an excellent book even better and more useful. Whether exploring the profound beauty of Vermont's skinny‑dipping "swimmin' holes" or exploring the profound depth of thought that underpins social nudism, Vermont Unveiled #2 is well worth your perusal.
Book review by John Kundert
Editor, "Fig Leaf Forum"