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Natural Lives, Modern Times: People and Places of the Delaware River Hardcover – April 21, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This delightful book portrays the Delaware River from its outlet in New Jersey and Delaware to its source in New York. The author, an editor of Audubon magazine, acts at various times as ecologist, naturalist, and social commentator while chronicling the impact of the river on people's lives and the land. Some of his characters love the river and its shore, others wish to destroy it. Stutz vividly describes the damage wrought by developers in the Poconos and the loss of the lower river's marshlands, vital habitat for its animals and plants. He also covers the effect on residents of failing industries in Philadelphia and Trenton. For all collections.
- George M. Jenks, Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, Pa.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

From an editor at Audubon magazine, a lively natural and social history and tour of the banks of the Delaware. The Delaware River was first settled by whites in the 17th century, Stutz tells us, and--as the common border of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey--soon became the East's maritime, agricultural, and industrial heartland. From this beginning, Stutz moves to the annual mating of two million horseshoe crabs, who, throwing themselves onto the beaches of Delaware Bay, are eaten by half of the Western Hemisphere's population of turnstone birds making an annual stop from South America on their way to the Arctic. In finely turned chapters, Stutz goes on to relate the history of the local beaver trade (dating from Charles I's 1638 mandate that only beaver could be used for hats); runs a line of ``fykes'' (traps for snapping turtles), telling of the turtles' lives while the subsistence fishermen who are boating tell him of theirs; spends nights with trappers harvesting eels in a river weir, the eels migrating to the Sargasso Sea to breed (along with all other migratory eels in the world); and relates the family histories of the 19th-century industrialists whose shipyards, refineries, and chemical factories generated pollution that halved the fishery by 1900. Stutz lets the many people whose lives are intertwined with the river speak for themselves and of what has vanished, giving his story an engaging presence. He also covers bad news: the Delaware's role as the major shipping route of slaves for auction in Philadelphia; the annihilation by the commercial caviar industry of great schools of ten-foot sturgeon; and the depredations of the home-building rush in the Poconos. Piquant, and uncommonly eloquent. (Six maps--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (April 21, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517582252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517582251
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,422,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Aldrich on April 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
In what appears to be, sadly, Bruce Stutz's only book, Stutz introduces the reader to those who scratch noble livings out of a river that yields not much more than a few shad each spring. He journeys south from Hancock, NY, to Philadelphia, PA, to present the lives of riparian denizens fighting to maintain their source of income against our (federal and state) government's struggles to protect our beautiful, valuable, and fragile Delaware River Valley. Neither side in Stutz's book comes across as "right" or "wrong" because, well, both sides care deeply about this stunning river. The one lack in "Natural Lives, Modern Times" is the lack of photos or illustrations, beyond some attractive woodcuts heading each chapter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Martin J. Bohley Jr. on September 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
I expected a history book but got a storybook of history. It is hard to put down but can easily be taken in small tasty chunks.
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