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The Hudson: America's River Paperback – April 10, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0231136419 ISBN-10: 0231136412 Edition: 0th
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The Hudson: America's River + Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820-1909 + Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dunwell, who has worked for 30 years to conserve the Hudson and its cultural heritage, tells the story of the magical river that has been central to New York's power and to the history of the United States. Beginning with the Native Americans who lived near the Hudson, Dunwell follows the river through the centuries, describing the painters—like Thomas Cole—who found in the river inspiration for great art and the Civilian Conservation Corps's work to build recreational facilities during the Great Depression. Covering the Hudson through space as well as time, Dunwell ranges from the building of the Erie Canal to the erection of the Statue of Liberty, and the Gilded Age estates of J.P. Morgan and Jay Gould. She pays particular attention to the tension between harnessing the Hudson's economic potential and preserving its natural beauty. Dunwell indulges in grandiose statements (the river's forts assume the importance of Grecian temples) and boosterism (Can a person make a difference? The answer is yes). But with the book's dozens of illustrations and a moving foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as bonuses, people who love the Hudson will love this book. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The magnificent Hudson River is emblematic of America’s dreams of freedom, bountiful nature, and uplifting beauty. And yet, for all its wild splendor and historic sites, America’s “most important waterway” became “grossly polluted.” Dunwell, a key figure in the river’s conservation, reawakens appreciation for the Hudson in a richly illustrated book graceful and capacious enough to capture the spirit and significance of its subject. Combining natural and human history, Dunwell tracks the river from its Adirondack headwaters to the tip of Manhattan, from Revolutionary War battles to Millionaire’s Row, where such prominent families as the Roosevelts and Rockefellers built grand estates, to the industries that poisoned the river and the activists—among them Pete Seeger, with the sloop Clearwater—who rescued, restored, and continue to protect the Hudson.  Dunwell’s clear, fast-moving prose conveys a wealth of information to form a commanding and inspiring biography of a river that gave rise to an art movement (the Hudson River school), progressive social quests, landmark environmental cases, and heroic approaches to preservation. The story of the Hudson River is the story of nature’s resiliency and civilization’s evolution. --Donna Seaman
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (April 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231136412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231136419
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Frances F. Dunwell is the author of two award-winning books and a noted conservation leader, working tirelessly for over 40 years to protect the natural, scenic and historic heritage of the Hudson River from a variety of nonprofit and governmental positions.

In the mid 1970's, as a young woman, Dunwell served as the Director of the Center for the Hudson River Valley and worked with transformative people --Franny Reese, Larry Rockefeller, Bob Boyle, Pete Seeger and others--on projects to clean up the river. Later, she led a successful coalition to support the passage of the NYS Local Waterfront Revitalization Act and helped designate the Hudson River Valley as a National Heritage Area.

Her curiosity about the Hudson's unique history and legendary people was stimulated by a project she helped to coordinate which documented the engineering marvels, architectural wonders, artist studios, castles, industrial archaeology and rural cemeteries along the river, themes she has explored more fully in her newest book. She has donated royalties from sales of her book to the Natural Heritage Trust in support of river conservation.

Dunwell is a life-long resident of the Hudson Valley and recalls a childhood on the river when it was so polluted that she had to get shots before going out on a boat, in case she fell in. Today, her work has made the Hudson River cleaner and more accessible for people to enjoy for swimming and boating. She has also helped communities deal with the realities of sea level rise and coastal storms, helped biologists restore Atlantic sturgeon, and helped citizens understand, love and protect the biodiversity of the Hudson Valley. Through her books, she hopes to inspire people to connect with the beauty and mystique of the valley, dream big for its future, and become everyday leaders who choose to make a difference.


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charles Henderson on December 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
In addition to being one of best informed environmentalists living and working in the Hudson River valley, Fran Dunwell brings her deep knowledge of history, art, and ecology to illuminate the importance of what she calls "America's River." Filled with colorful illustrations, and a sweeping view of the history, if you are going to buy one book to deepen your knowledge of this important region, this would be the one. There are other books that focus on the art, and others that are long on text and footnotes, but this book has it all. A must read for long time residents or newcomers to one of the most beautiful regions of the United States. Charles P. Henderson, Executive Editor, CrossCurrents
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James C. Davis on February 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Frances Dunwell's "The Hudson: America's River." It's a lively account of the river's role in the history of New York City and State, and America as well. A good deal of research and visual support inform and detail an engaging, well-written narrative. Dunwell helps us see why the Hudson is not just a 300+ mile body of moving water. She shows us its importance, its historical role, is the myriad ways it stimulated our imaginations: commercial, political, scientific/technological, aesthetic, spiritual. It's a very good book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura Kefalidis on February 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
What a book! Frances Dunwell places us in the cockpit of a river which has shaped American history for centuries. Heroes and traitors, pirates and builders, the robber barons who made the Hudson home, and the (sometimes converted super rich) conservation-minded, the modern threats to its grandeur, and under it all, the ever present mysteries and goblins discovered and so publicized by Washington Irving, in the many Sleepy Hollows still along the Hudson.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Raimund Strauck on October 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
I often know after the first chapter if a book is five-star material. This book is no exception to that. I have been living 20 years in Westchester County, NY and was largely unaware of the amazing and influential 400 year history of this river. For example, I didn't know that where the Bear Mountain bridge is now crossing the river is the spot where 300 years ago patriotic forces drew a chain across the river in an attempt to stop English war ships from penetrating into upstate New York.

The book has greatly inspired me to hike more in the Highlands and explore many of the historic sites which used to be the private residences of American millionaires of the 1800s such as the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. When I get to Storm King Mountain on the west shore and Break Neck Mountain on the east shore side I will know that I am walking over the part of the Catskill Aqueduct where it crosses the river underneath the water in a syphon-like tunnel drilled into the solid bedrock. Starting near Cornwall at 418 feet elevation the tunnel drops down vertically to a depth of 1100 feet, crosses the river, and emerges back up vertically on the east side to an elevation of 395 feet. At the time it was built in 1907 and 1916 it was one of the greatest engineering feats in human history.
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