December 8, 2013 by Reader's Connection
Let’s see, the White River flows into the Wabash River, and the Wabash flows into the Ohio, and as Paul Schneider says, “the relatively short Ohio . . . brings more water to the party than any other two tributaries combined.” So our region is included in Mr. Schneider’s new book. He has called it Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History, but he’s not just writing about the river itself. He’s including “the Mississippi watershed, the Mississippi basin, the Mississippi catchment–41 percent of the continental United States–it’s all one river.”
We are given a geological history, a discussion of whether the first Americans drove our woolly mammoths into extinction, and a study of the violently undependable alliances along the watershed among the Indian tribes, the Spanish, the French and the English.
Schneider, a born wanderer himself, takes in as much of the watershed as he can. He’s less lucky than Henry David Thoreau when it comes to finding arrowheads, and kayaks with his son on Old Man. This is a congenial account (featuring much uncongenial behavior) of a wide stripe of our past, and would make a great holiday gift for the history-oriented reader on your list.
The library has ordered Old Man River as an audiobook on CD.