Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


Schneider tackles a massive topic in this sweeping book that succeeds in taking in the entire Mississippi watershed, from the Appalachians to the Rockies. The span of time is necessarily epic, starting 500 million years ago, and ending with the 2013 budget for the Army Corps of Engineers. In amongst all this fascinating history are bits of illuminating travelogue from the author's own explorations of the modern day River and its tributaries.

— Chris

Schneider tackles a massive topic in this sweeping book that succeeds in taking in the entire Mississippi watershed, from the Appalachians to the Rockies. The span of time is necessarily epic, starting 500 million years ago, and ending with the 2013 budget for the Army Corps of Engineers. In amongst all this fascinating history are bits of illuminating travelogue from the author's own explorations of the modern day River and its tributaries. - Chris

— From Chris Wilcox

Description


Old Man River, Paul Schneider's exploration of America's great waterway—taking the reader from the Mississippi River's origins to its polluted present and tracing its prehistory, geology, and cultural and literary histories—is as vast as its subject.

The fascinating cast of characters includes the French and Spanish explorers de Soto, Marquette and Joliet, and the incomparable La Salle; George Washington fighting his first battle in an effort to secure the watershed; the birth of jazz and blues; and literary greats like Melville, Dickens, Trollope, and, of course, Mark Twain.

Pirates and riverbats, gamblers and slaves, hustlers and landscape painters, loggers and catfishers, tourists and missionaries: The Mississippi is a river of stories and myth. It's Paul Robeson sitting on a cotton bale, Daniel Boone floating on a flatboat, and Paul Bunyan cutting trees in the neighborhood of Little House in the Big Woods.

Half-devastated product of American ingenuity, half-magnificent natural wonder, it is impossible to imagine America without the Mississippi.

About the Author


Paul Schneider is the acclaimed author of Bonnie and Clyde, Brutal Journey, The Enduring Shore, and The Adirondacks, a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. He and his family live in West Tisbury, Massachusetts.

Praise For…


“[A] vivid history.” —The New Yorker

“He's a fantastic writer.” —Wes Craven, The Boston Globe

“Stunning...With such an expert hand on the tiller, Old Man River is an astonishing journey.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The territory Schneider studies is what some dismiss as ‘flyover country,' but what fascinating stories ‘flyover country' has to tell!” —Booklist

“Another chockablock, environmentally focused, ambitious volume from Schneider...A wild ride well worth taking.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Reminiscent of a Ken Burns documentary...this historical book becomes surprisingly moving and meditative.” —The Cedar Rapids Gazette

“Schneider's book stands out....It's another reminder of how we took the river's heritage for granted for far too long, and why it's worth scrambling today to reclaim and maintain as much of it as we can.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250053107
ISBN-10: 1250053102
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: October 28th, 2014
Pages: 416
Language: English

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