Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: OLD MAN RIVER by Paul Schneider

#Mississippi River # American History #Waterway #Natural Wonder

Title: Old Man River by Paul Schneider
Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

About The Book:
In Old Man River, Paul Schneider tells the story of the river at the center of America’s rich history—the Mississippi. Some fifteen thousand years ago, the majestic river provided Paleolithic humans with the routes by which early man began to explore the continent’s interior. Since then, the river has been the site of historical significance, from the arrival of Spanish and French explorers in the 16th century to the Civil War. George Washington fought his first battle near the river, and Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman both came to President Lincoln’s attention after their spectacular victories on the lower Mississippi.

In the 19th century, home-grown folk heroes such as Daniel Boone and the half-alligator, half-horse, Mike Fink, were creatures of the river. Mark Twain and Herman Melville led their characters down its stream in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Confidence-Man. A conduit of real-life American prowess, the Mississippi is also a river of stories and myth.

Schneider traces the history of the Mississippi from its origins in the deep geologic past to the present. Though the busiest waterway on the planet today, the Mississippi remains a paradox—a devastated product of American ingenuity, and a magnificent natural wonder.

"Parts of the river are older than the Atlantic Ocean. Parts of it were created yesterday."

Lynda’s Review:
With a little personal adventure mixed with a whole lot of history, author Paul Schneider gives us a book that sparks the imagination. After all, who wouldn't want to raft or canoe down a mighty and majestic natural wonder like the Mississippi River? Who doesn't love peering into the past, observing peoples and geological events? Who doesn't like finding answers to their questions and finding more questions in the process? This book is not a fast read, but for the time spent, there is compensation aplenty.

On the negative side, the one thing lacking for me after reading this book was a sense of the whole. Maybe I'm one of those nonfiction readers that needs a really good summary near the end of the book to put all the parts and pieces together in chronological order sense the book wasn't written in that strict format. But again, that's just one person's opinion.

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