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The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas Paperback – June 1, 2004


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The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas + The Great Lakes: The Natural History of a Changing Region (David Suzuki Foundation Series) + Great Lakes Shipwrecks & Survivals
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his newest book, Dennis (From a Wooden Canoe) offers an engrossing description of being a crew member on the schooner Malabar on a six-week trip through the waters of Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Capt. Hajo Knuttel and other crew members such as Tim, the ship's creative cook, spring to life in this modern adventure tale. Dennis weaves anecdotes from his childhood, such as a family-fishing trip on Lake Michigan, together with informed commentary on the natural history of the lakes and the people who live there as well as evocative descriptions of the enchanting view of the forests along Lake Superior from the schooner. His narrative is a continual reminder of the dangers inherent in navigating the waters of these magnificent lakes as he details their current condition; he explains that in the 1970s, Lake Erie's waters were saved from an ecological disaster by a public outcry, yet other waters are still in danger from commercial dumping. But all does not go smoothly for the Malabar; Dennis's narrative takes on an air of adventure when, toward the end of the trip, the Malabar and its crew encounter a terrifying storm. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Dennis surveys the Inland Seas through the viewpoint of his lake-faring rambles in three different vessels: schooner, racing yacht, and voyageur canoe. As he passes the numerous spectacular sights the Great Lakes afford sailors, Dennis recalls their associated history in a vibrant blend of personal observation and geological, historical, and environmental anecdote. The main focus here is a schooner trip in 2000 from Grand Traverse Bay to Maine (via the Erie Canal). As the Malabar negotiates the treacherous Straits of Mackinac, Dennis not only covers the French missions, British forts, and innumerable shipwrecks in this storied area but also recollects his experience in the annual Chicago-to-Mackinac yacht race. Working in a separate, French fur-trapper style canoeing adventure on Lake Superior, Dennis touches on all five lakes in this compendium, endowing his chronicle with a breadth that makes it a fine introduction to the lakes' ecology. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312331037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312331030
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jerry Dennis (www.jerrydennis.net) is an acclaimed nature, science, and outdoor writer whose books have appeared on national bestseller lists, have been translated into six languages, and are taught in many universities and high schools. His essays and stories have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Smithsonian, Orion, American Way, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Gray's Sporting Journal. Among the awards he has received are the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, the Michigan Author of the Year Award, the Great Lakes Culture Award, and four Best Book of the Year awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a beauty. I suggest that after you receive it, you buy a couple bottles of strong French-Canadian beer (La Fin Du Monde, for example) throw in a Classical CD on repeat and start flipping pages. On a rainy day here in San Francisco, where I am now, I can feel myself being transported to the most mystical place I have yet to visit--after seeing nearly all of the U.S., Europe, and Asia--nothing compares to a sunset on Lake Michigan, a snowstorm on Lake Superior, or a sunrise on Lake Huron.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "attn" on December 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As I'm sure it is with many of the people that read this book, I grew up and live around the Great Lakes. My life has been sent sailing and fishing Lake Michigan and its tributaries. Jerry Dennis' book is a must read for anyone interested in the Great Lakes and what they mean to both the region's social and natural history. It's a pleasure to read all the factual tidbit's about these natural gifts carefully assembled together into a book. Jerry is not a writer that leaves you breathless with either his imagery or the depth of his prose. He has no need to. His straight forward style and knowledge of nature and science keeps you rolling along with him. He's like the smart and warm uncle whose conversations late into the night you've always cherished. Read this before planning your sailing or motoring trip through the Great Lakes and Erie Canal. It'll make you set a date for your trip instead of just thinking about it.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Emily Cloyd on June 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am (like many of those that have written reviews) a native Michigander. However, I am now living in upstate New York, which despite being part of the Great Lakes lacks the appreciation for the lakes that midwesterners have. This book is a must read for anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to grow up surrounded by the greatest natural wonder in the world. This book highlights not only the natural history of the lakes, but the social and environmental legacy of humankind in the lakes. For those who were lucky enough to spend time sailing, swimming, hiking, and otherwise enjoying the Great Lakes, this book will sweep you back in time to the lazy summers of youth (or retirement, as the case may be!) and remind you of why you love the Great Lakes.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 12, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An enthusiastic outdoorsman, Dennis has written a comprehensive book on the Great Lakes from the perspective of personal experience, scientific data and historical background. He describes the area in its early pristine beauty, from the Indian tribes to the first European settlers and the dawning of industrialization that almost destroyed this natural preserve of geology, flora, fauna and indigenous species. With attention to the tales of the past, Dennis writes of the gradual evolution of natural beauty into a vast resource for lumber, farm products, shipping and related industries, including the influx of a population that has grown around opportunity, all imbued with the awesome grandeur of these vast bodies of water.

On a four-week voyage through the Great Lakes, Dennis views the area from the water, as opposed to his many travels along the shorelines, the exhausting, but fulfilling days on board filled with the lore of the sea, new friendships make while sailing and the eccentric individuals met along the way. Couched in contemporary terms, the author speaks of the past with reverence, his love of history enhanced by regional details, tales of shipwrecks and the personal observations of a man with great reverence for the bounty of this immense body of water and those who live on the miles of coastline that make up the Great Lakes. History is tangible in Dennis's work, impossible to ignore as the men navigate from one lake to another, reminded daily of the pitfalls of ignoring nature and the pleasures of communing with the elements.

The comprehensive chapters cover: Lake Michigan, from land and water; the Straights of Mackinac; Lake Superior, canoeing, the early voyagers, surviving storms; Lake Huron, Georgian Bay and the wilderness; St.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having lived amongst the Great Lakes my entire life, I thought I knew so much. I was wrong. This book was almost impossible to put down. It is a great mix of science, ecology, history, and personal experience. Many books about the Great Lakes get bogged down in too much of just one subject area, unlike this book. Positively fascinating. No lie.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Roth on January 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book captures the heart of the Great Lakes and all the beauty that is found in and around them. It gives a wonderful detail of the geologic history of the lakes and the landscape around them. The author has a true appreciation for these living lakes and evokes that throughout his writing. If you live around the Great Lakes region, you will gain a new appreciation for how lucky we are to be by them and a new sense of desire to protect them. I used excerpts from this book to teach a high school earth science class when studying the hydrosphere and meterology. I recommend this book to any naturalist, Great Lakes region residence, or for anyone who wants to know why the largest source of fresh water on the planet is worth saving and preserving.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Raymond D. Menard on June 2, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased the book because I'm considering a retirement along Lake Ontario and am an avid sailor. The book is centered around the relocation of a Ferro cement schooner from Michigan through the lakes to Lake Ontario, onward down the Hudson and around New England. Along the journey, are many mini stories added for each lake taken from a combination of personal adventures, history and many interesting collection of facts coveraging a wide range of subjects from geology, their early exploration, later exploitation and related environmental problems. My only mild dissapointment is there was not more on Lake Ontario. The trip ends in along the coast of Maine where I was raised. It's a delightful book.
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