Old Man River
The Mississippi River in North American History
Author: Paul Schneider
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.
In The News
“[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