Diana Muir Appelbaum

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Diana Muir Appelbaum
Diana Karter
Spouse(s)Paul S. Appelbaum
Children3 including Yoni Appelbaum and Binyamin Appelbaum
Parent(s)Elizabeth Whitman Karter
Peter Karter
FamilyTrish Karter (sister)

Diana Muir, also known as Diana Muir Appelbaum, is a Newton, Massachusetts writer and historian. Muir is best known for her 2000 book Reflections in Bullough's Pond, a history of the impact of human activity on the New England ecosystem.

Personal life[edit]

Appelbaum was born and raised in the small town of Old Lyme, Connecticut. She attended Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City.[1] Her parents are Elizabeth Carmen (née Whitman) and Peter Karter.[2] Her sister is entrepreneur Trish Karter. She is married to Paul S. Appelbaum, a psychiatrist and professor at Columbia University with whom she has co-authored articles. They have three adult children, Binyamin Appelbaum; Yoni Appelbaum; and Avigail Appelbaum.[3] Although both her parents were Episcopalians,[2][4] she and her husband belong to Congregation Ramath Orah in Manhattan.[5]

Reflections in Bullough's Pond[edit]

According to the Daily News Tribune, "Muir's book Reflections in Bullough's Pond reads more like a novel than a history book. In the book, Muir shows the historical relationship between New England's economy and the environment. She expands the relationship into a national and global analysis of America's, and the world's, current environmental and political problems: global warming, ozone depletion, and Middle East oil dependence, to name a few. Muir claims America's oil dependent economy has hit a dead end. Muir argues that Americans can, and must, make economic changes to alleviate their environmental and political problems."[6]

Muir draws on many academic disciplines in her work, as the Boston Globe put it:

She's an economist. Then, again, maybe she's really an ecologist. Although some book critics and readers consider her a New England historian. Actually, Newton author Diana Muir is probably all of the above... Although her book was well received by economic historians who like to look at how industries rise and fall, Muir doesn't call herself a lay economist. "I'm an historian," she said. "And it seems to me that any intelligent person has to enjoy nature and care about the environment, and so those interests all came together." So, she's a shameless environmentalist, too.[7]


Muir, an environmental historian, is a critic of American choice of "profitability over sustainability."[1] She has been called "Malthusian,"[8] and a "shameless environmentalist."[9] She has written a column for the Massachusetts Sierran, the magazine of the Massachusetts Sierra Club.[10]

Children's books[edit]

Muir is the author of two picture books. When Giants in the Land was named one of the Yankee Magazine 100 Classic New England Children's Books, Muir told a reporter that "Kids that age are voracious and want to be read to a lot, and there are many wonderful picture books, but this [list] might make it a little easier for people. Librarians know all those books, but aunts and grandparents going to buy a book for a child don't always know where to go after [they've bought] Make Way for Ducklings.'"[11]

Other work[edit]

Genetics and Identity[edit]

Muir has published a number of articles on genetics and ethnicity,[12][13] defending the position that ethnicity is a matter of language and customs, not genetic descent.[14]

Thanksgiving and The Glorious Fourth[edit]

Muir is the author of histories of the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. Amitai Etzioni has called Muir's books key works in the social history of holidays.[15]


Muir has appeared on The History Channel, the BBC, National Public Radio, Voice of America and other news programs,[16] and publishes articles in a range of scholarly and popular journals.[17][18] She has written for several Jewish publications, including Tablet magazine.[19]


Books for children[edit]

Prizes and awards[edit]

For Reflections in Bullough's Pond (University Press of New England, 2000)

For Cocoa Ice (Orchard Books 1997)

For Giants in the Land (Houghton Mifflin 1993)


  • "Biblical nationalism and the sixteenth-century states". National Identities. Informa UK. 15 (4): 317–332. 2013. doi:10.1080/14608944.2013.814624. ISSN 1460-8944.
  • "The Gene Wars", with Paul S. Appelbaum, Azure, Winter 5767 / 2007, No. 27[13]
  • "A Land without a People for a People without a Land", Middle Eastern Quarterly, Spring 2008, Vol. 15, No. 2[18]
  • "The Rootless Roma". The American Interest. 6 (4). 1 March 2011.
  • "Jewish Identity and Egyptian Revival Architecture", Journal of Jewish Identities, summer 2012


  1. ^ a b Floyd, Jesse A. (July 1, 2000). "Travelling Through Time". The Newton Tab. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Elizabeth Whitman "Bunt" Karter". Hartford Courant. October 26, 2004.
  3. ^ Brendel, Martina (April 2007). "Alumni Updates: Dr. Paul S. Appelbaum '72 Comes Home to Columbia". Columbia College Today.
  4. ^ "Peter Karter". The Hartford Courant. April 2, 2010.
  5. ^ "Annual Dinner 2014 Honoring Paul & Dede Appelbaum and Andre & Shalhevet Jacobvitz". Congregation Ramath Orah. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  6. ^ Hartman, Ben (December 14, 2001). "Why is New England's landscape different from the rest of the United States?". Daily News Tribune. Diana Muir Appelbaum. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  7. ^ Warsh, David (August 20, 2000). "Reclaiming the Commons". The Boston Globe. Diana Muir Appelbaum. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  8. ^ Donahue, Brian, The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord, 2004, p. 264
  9. ^ 'Reflections' wins the Massachusetts Book Award for the best non-fiction book published in 2000, Kenneth Rapoza, The Boston Globe, December 9, 2001
  10. ^ Massachusetts Sierran
  11. ^ " 'giants' Makes Children's book List," by Erica Noonan, Boston Globe, December 3, 2000
  12. ^ Genetics and the Jewish Identity with Paul S. Appelbaum, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 11, 2008
  13. ^ a b The Gene Wars with Paul S. Appelbaum, Azure, Winter 5767 / 2007, No. 27
  14. ^ Nature versus nurture, by Robert Miller, News Times, Aug. 2, 2008
  15. ^ "Flirting and Flag-waving, the revealing story of holidays and rituals." Amitai Etzioni, Chronicle of Higher Education (December 11, 2002)
  16. ^ SUNY Cortland - News - New England Author to Discuss Ecologically Sustainable Economy on March 18
  17. ^ Washington Post article
  18. ^ a b Middle East Quarterly article
  19. ^ Building Bust Tablet Magazine 20 Aug 2009

External links[edit]