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My River Chronicles: Rediscovering the Work that Built America; A Personal and Historical Journey Hardcover – September 8, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416586989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416586982
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An unexpected portrayal of America in the decline of industry, delivered from the unique vantage point of the Hudson River. . . . [A]n eye-opening picture of what America has been . . . and what it is becoming. . . . Powerful." - Kirkus, starred review

"Jessica DuLong’s elegantly written My River Chronicles brings the past of the Hudson River into the vivid present and carries forward the craft of literary non-fiction with grace and energy." - Gay Talese, author of A Writer’s Life and Unto the Sons

"She details her often exhilarating experiences in her very fine and gutsy book. Ms. DuLong is a confident and sensual writer, as perceptive about small matters on a boat as was Anthony Bourdain, in Kitchen Confidential, about everyday events in a professional kitchen. . . . Readers will feel their own little yelps of glee all over My River Chronicles." - The New York Times ArtsBeat blog

"The engine room is, in DuLong’s opinion, a tribute to an era of craftsmanship that is very nearly extinct." - The New Yorker

"Smart, captivating prose . . . [Readers] will love this unusual mix of history, adventure, feminism and blue-collar know-how. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"When Jessica DuLong describes her work in the engine room of the John J. Harvey, you can practically feel the throb of the boat’s mighty diesels. This is someone who has paid some dues, and it shows in the details. Her view through a narrow portal at the water line opens into a bigger picture of the Hudson River, the economy of New York, and the dignity of work - the kind of work that is genuinely useful. My River Chronicles is an account of what made this country thrive, and might yet again: men and women who aren’t content to stand around with their hands in their pockets. The book reeks of penetrating oil, which may be just what is needed to get our economy, and our culture, moving again." - Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

"In rich and captivating prose, Jessica DuLong kindly invites the rest of us on the journey of her lifetime: from a dot-com job to the fabled waters of the Hudson River, where she became a fireboat engineer. This is an unusual and fascinating book." - Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House and Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship

"As both a writer and an engineer, she’s relentlessly, gratifyingly curious, and her fine, richly detailed prose holds an appeal regardless of your level of interest in heritage histories and engine mechanics. . . . [T]he whole book is so layered and compelling that the intensity of 9/11 doesn’t overpower the slower, more meditative sections. . . . DuLong’s passion for her craft is contagious, making My River Chronicles one of the most moving, unusual books I’ve read in a long time." - Bookslut

"Jessica DuLong is a lucky woman. She stumbled into an obscure world- the overheated engine room of an old fireboat - and discovered that she belonged there. Readers are lucky, too, because she has managed to translate her love affair with the water into a finely written and fascinating story about a lost American way of life." - Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic

"If you’ve ever wondered what we’re missing by sitting at computers in cubicles all day, follow Jessica DuLong when she loses her desk job and embarks on this unlikely but fantastic voyage. Deeply original, riveting to read, and soul-bearingly honest, My River Chronicles is a surprisingly infectious romance about a young woman falling in love with a muscle-y old boat. As DuLong learns to navigate her way through a man’s world of tools and engines, and across the swirling currents of a temperamental river, her book also becomes a love letter to a nation. In tune with the challenges of our times, DuLong reminds us of the skills and dedication that built America, and inspires us to renew ourselves once again." - Trevor Corson, author of The Story of Sushi and The Secret Life of Lobsters

About the Author

Jessica DuLong, a United States Coast Guard–licensed Merchant Marine Officer, is one of the world’s only female fireboat engineers. She is also a journalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek International, Rolling Stone, Psychology Today, Parenting, and numerous other publications. This is her first book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


More About the Author

Jessica DuLong, a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed merchant marine officer is one of the world's only female fireboat engineers. She's also a journalist whose work has appeared in NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL, ROLLING STONE, PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, COSMOGIRL!, PARENTING, TODAY'S MACHINING WORLD, MARITIME REPORTER & ENGINEERING NEWS, and other publications. Her passion for the Hudson River took shape at her post in the diesel exhaust-filled engine room of retired New York City fireboat JOHN J. HARVEY (www.fireboat.org), where temperatures climb to 130 degrees. She and her crewmates were recognized in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD following their service pumping water to firefighters at Ground Zero following the September Eleventh attacks, and were featured as characters in NEW YORKER illustrator Maira Kalman's award-winning children's book FIREBOAT: THE HEROIC ADVENTURES OF THE JOHN J. HARVEY. Today, the 1931 vessel, dubbed "Ambassador of the Hudson," operates as a living museum, offering free public trips around New York harbor and an annual whistle-stop tour up the Hudson River, with DuLong at the engine room controls.

www.myriverchronicles.com
www.fireboat.org

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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A good easy read with lots of historic background.
B. Bennett
Personal journey, American nautical history, pragmatic patriotism all woven together in a remarkable story.
Robert T. Wilbur
Jessica Dulong's My River Chronicle - Rediscovering the America on the Hudson is a remarkable book.
Richard E. Spilman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By erin k on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My River Chronicles is a beautifully written love letter to the Hudson River and good honest work, the kind we (largely) have forgotten how to do in America. A unique protagonist and uniquely sensitive observer, Jessica DuLong shares her journey from dotcom office worker to fireboat engineer - an unlikely and compelling career path driven by nothing more than a willingness to follow her heart towards meaningful work. In an era when her fellow Gen-Xers don't know how to make anything that doesn't require a laptop, DuLong dives head first into a kind of work that is hands-on, physical and anything but virtual. Along the way, she discovers the history of American industry and forges a deeper connection with her own family. This memoir is a meaty, satisfying read, and in light of the recent economic crisis, a powerful reminder of the kind of labor and laborers - men, and now, women - who built this country by hand.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Elman on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Part memoir, part history, part call to action, My River Chronicles introduces you to life aboard a working boat on the Hudson River. With smart, honest prose, DuLong soon has you hooked and converted--much like she was on the first wintry day she spent aboard the fireboat John J. Harvey--filling you with respect for the river and passion for the need to keep alive the trades and industries that built our country. Truly an excellent book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Neuborne on September 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
At its core, this is a book about our potential to be our best selves. When life handed her a pink slip, Jessica DuLong changed her life. Her book teaches us that if you're willing to think big and get dirty, great things are possible.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Ivory on September 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellant book. I have a bit of familiarity with the cast of characters in this book, especially Tim Ivory. I've been on the Harvey, met the crew, experienced the engine room in action, smelled the smells and been doused by Captain Bob. Coming from that perspective I feel that Jessica really hits the target in her heartfelt descriptions of the crew and their adventures. I've been privy to a few of the stories (told after the fact) and quite delighted to learn the details of some of the greater "yarns" (the Gowanis trip from Northfolk).

I also have a deep appreciation for Jessica's love of craftsmanship found in the old machines and the old ways. Being a craftsman myself (Luthier), I find time and time again that nothing beats the quality of the old machines and have lamented the fact that few people of my generation (boomers) work with their hands and damn near none of my kids' generation work with theirs. I am proud to have met these folks and am deeply honored that they continue to educate the public that craftsmanship, working with your brains AND your hands, hard work, and a job well done are virtues, not vices.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Kane on January 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Considering our coastlines, major lakes and rivers, there are surprisingly few
really well written and engaging books on falling in love with boats, the water, and maritime history.

This is such a book. Just a great read on an engaging subject.

HOWEVER, this book cries out for MAPS! Maybe if it sells well enough, the next edition can be revised to add maps. Particularly for those of us living far away on the West Coast, good maps would be a great help.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Voelcker on October 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an unusual book. It's a combination of the personal story of Jessica DuLong, who went from a dot-com desk worker to one of the few women boat engineers in New York Harbor, and a history of 400 years of the Hudson River, from the time Henry Hudson first traveled up it in 1609 to the modern day.

Interweaving her personal narrative with the broader historical themes is a tough task. But she mostly pulls it off, introducing the reader to layers of history as she discovers them when she comes out from belowdecks and begins to pilot her own tugboat.

The most affecting chapter of the book, and for me the hardest to read, was the Fireboat John J. Harvey's heroic role in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. An entirely volunteer crew worked for 72 hours straight on their 70-year-old fireboat to pump water from the Hudson onto the pit, at the request of the FDNY. The episode earned the Harvey (and the author) a Congressional commendation, historic status, a children's book, and more. It's a story you couldn't possibly have made up, and yet it's completely true.

All in all, this book is well worth a read. And my bet is you'll go back to it and re-read, once you know the whole story, to rediscover the important history of the Hudson with Jessica as she learns about it too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Stalker on October 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America on the Hudson" is a fantastic combination of the author's personal history on the Hudson and the history if the Hudson itself. Dulong's account of her relationships with boats and the people who love them is honest, touching and piquant. Dulong also explores America's drift from hands on work and the impact this has on us as indivduals and as a nation. This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys a well written story and more so to those who are interested in the Hudson and its history, accidental feminism or the value of hard work.My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America on the Hudson
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