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High Water (Borealis Books) Paperback – October 15, 1987

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"The story of these crewmen and their hopeless fight to bring the Royal Prince into port pushing her cargo ahead of her is so compelling that every sensitive reader will resent each drop of rain that swells the waters moving down against them." -- Herald Tribune
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Product Details

  • Series: Borealis Books
  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press (October 15, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873512219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873512213
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,572,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Nally on January 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I started on the river as a deckhand in May, 1955; worked every job from that thru manager of a barge line company. I retired in 2004 but still make trips out there when I feel the urge. I never read anything even close to how Richard Pike Bissell brought back so many memories of how it really was and still is when it comes to working out there. His characters were so "real" that I seemed to "remember" literally each one of them sometime during my own experiences. I know he's "been there and done that" when I'm reading his stuff.

Recently, I read a statement by the best murder mystery writer in the business. Elmore Leonard stated that Bissell's writing inspired him in his own writings. Bissell's attention to detail with people is so intense that so many other writers allow it to just go right over their heads. And to their detriment. Leonard does the same in his thorough research of people and places before he ever sets a pen to it.

"Dutch" told me something once I'll never forget. "Bob, you have written a history of events. In order to do a story, you must have people."

That was Bissell.

Thank you Amazon.com, Borealis Books and the Minnesota Historical Society for keeping High Water available.

Robert R. Nally

US Coast Guard licensed Master/Pilot and Chief Engineer
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lee Goldberg VINE VOICE on July 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In an interview with Barnes & Noble, Elmore Leonard said his writing was deeply influenced by the works of Richard Bissell. So I immediately went to Amazon to get a copy of Bissell's work...and I am glad I did. And after reading HIGH WATER, a tale of a first mate on a Mississippi steam boat during an epic flood, it was easy to see the influence Bissell has had on Leonard's approach to character and dialog. Bissell has that same naturalistic, funny, amiable way with characters, whether they are "good guys" or "bad guys," that makes even the most minor players in the tale memorable and interesting. His plotting is loose and yet surprisingly powerful. And his eye for the telling details is sometimes astonishing in its simplicity and truth. I can see why Leonard, as a young writer, was impressed, and why he adopted some of the same techniques. HIGH WATER is worth reading, not only for insight into Leonard's writing style, but on its own considerable merits . I loved it and look forward to devouring Bissell's other work
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michele M. Donahue on September 2, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Bissell is a master of dialogue and character development. The story of one trip on a tow boat up the Mississippi unfolds almost as a back-drop, as conversations between characters reveal the lives of the boatmen and their perspectives on life.

One of these marvelous perspectives, on growing older, was "...there is such a short time between being scared and wondering how to purchase a ticket to Sioux City, and then all of a sudden knowing too much about tickets, trains, and especially Sioux City."

This is a wonderful book. If you are from the Midwest, you will appreciate the honest, uncomplicated, realistic way Bissell presents the people and places, without the sarcasm of Sinclair Lewis. And, no matter where you are from, you will recognize the character types and enjoy the subtle presentation of deeply thoughtful insight found in "High Water."
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