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Ganga: A Journey Down the Ganges River Hardcover – October 15, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Hardcover, October 15, 2007
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Editorial Reviews


"This book is the ideal fellow passenger—open and informative, chatty and beguiling, a voice for the masses on the shores."
(Chicago Tribune)

About the Author

Julian Crandall Hollick is an award-winning producer and writer of radio documentaries. His programs have aired on NPR, the BBC, and CBC in Toronto, and his writing has appeared in publications including Smithsonian and The New Republic.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; First Edition first edition (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597263869
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597263863
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Julian Crandall Hollick, a journalist whose radio documentaries on sounds of India have gently woken me up on many days, has written a fabulous, conversational book that comprises a river's ecology, mythology, and, to a lesser extent, her economy. Ganga is the name of Hollick's book--simply Ganga and not the less euphonious, anglicized Ganges (note: this review is based on the Indian edition of Ganga; the American Island Press edition carries the subtitle "A Journey Down the Ganges River"). This is the river that invited Hollick to traverse her length, and she is the goddess who informs his story telling. Just as Ganga meanders through North India, Hollick weaves between the physical and the metaphysical to explore the conundrum of duality: Is Ganga a river, a goddess, or both? The answers come from Ganga's fantastical mythological beginnings and its very real and constrained present.

Rather than simply repeating the origin myth of how Mother Ganga's torrential heavenly descent to earth was contained by Lord Shiva's matted hair, Hollick tells the longer, more nuanced "once upon a time" tale about imperial King Sagar. This story bookends the author's own story which begins in the Himalayas and ends at Sagar Island in Bengal.

It is helpful to explore the Sagar story before proceeding with Hollick's. In the myth, Sagar performs a horse sacrifice in order to extend his kingdom. The horse wanders into a forest where Kapil rishi is meditating. Sagar's sixty thousand sons--all from one wife--give chase, but disturbed the rishi in the process; all sixty thousand are reduced to ashes. Months pass and Sagar's lone son from a second wife enters the same forest, but, unlike his brothers, Anshuman wisely waits for Kapil rishi to complete his meditation.
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Format: Hardcover
I recommend adding Ganga: A Journey Down the Ganga River to your stack of books for winter fireside reading. This book will take you to distant places without the hassles of modern travel. More than philosophical ruminations or an eco-travelogue this book is the engaging account of a dream realized. Tantilized by childhood stories of this great river, Crandall-Hollick goes to meet the river in person. He approaches the complex issues of the Ganga with respect and clarity. Traveling from the headwaters to the delta of the Ganga, he explores the relationship of the people who live on the banks of the river with the goddess who has abundantly blessed their lives with meaning. Reading this book I came to better understand that the people of India are not indifferent to the impact of people, pollution, and politics on the health of the river, but rather that they faithfully expect a divine solution to the complex issues that are beyond human capacity to solve.
I found the chapter on bacteriophages particularly interesting, especially with the current headlines about MRSA. Perhaps there is more to the story of Naaman being healed by washing seven times in the Jordan...Scientific study and religion may have much to contribute to each other's understanding of creation.
Crandall-Hollick has a deft touch with language. His descriptions of the river and the people are poetic in their accuracy. What he has seen and described is not limited by his expectations. Willing to learn and explore new ideas raised by his journey at the end of the book Crandall-Hollick raises some excellent questions on the role of economics in resolving the issues of continuing interaction of people and the river. From river bandits to temple priests many people depend on the river for life.
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Format: Hardcover
Touching a chord am a reader from Bangalore, India and have just finished reading GANGA by Julian Crandall Hollick, published by Random House.
It made absorbing reading and I would recommend it highly to anyone who is interested in India, its peopleand their beliefs, and who has more than a touristic interest in this country. Hollick has touched a chord in the minds of all those who wonder about the strong faith that the people in this country hold about this amazing river.

The first impression one gets on reading the "Ganga" is the author's sincerity. For us in India the feeling for Gangamata is part of our lives and our heritage.The divinity we ascribe to her only underlines the importance of the river in the history and geography, ancient myth and modern economic prosperity of millions of people.. To know that someone not from this country understands this in the same way is heartwarming. What is unique and most enjoyable reading is, the account of his interaction with the ordinary people he encountered on his travels down the river from source to the sea, the simple people with their down to earth philosophies and wisdom, their hospitality, and their abiding faith in Mother Ganga.
Hollick is also more pragmatic about the river,pointing out dangers to which our faith in the Goddess Ganga blinds us,-- such as the many dams, barrages which change her natural flow and the waste and muck we pollute her with. We seem to accept all this over-use of the water, and the man-made pollution as something the Goddess will take care of. There is the widespread belief that Ganga purifies anything that goes into her; the author does suggest a scientific reason for this.
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