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.)
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*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