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Drifting into Darien: A Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River (Wormsloe Foundation Nature Book Ser.) Hardcover – September 15, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

I found this book important, evocative, and lovingly written. There are many passages of great beauty, and the author's sincerity and knowledge radiate from every page. Her words sing, crackle, and tingle in the mind long afterward. The book offers a rich blend of local color, universal insight, humor, and environmental passion.

(John Tallmadge author of The Cincinnati Arch: Learning from Nature in the City)

Every endangered ecosystem should have such an eloquent spokesman.

(Bailey White)

Janisse Ray is, and has always been, the real authentic deal. She feels deeply about the land, the water, the life of this planet. She lives that conviction. And she is blessed with the gift to write about this earth in a way that touches us all. From one Georgia girl to another: Janisse, you and your work inspire me. Read her words. Be inspired.

(Tina McElroy Ansa Novelist, Baby of the Family, Ugly Ways, Taking After Mudear)

Other rivers are as storied, as well-loved, and as wild, writes Georgia poet and activist Janisse Ray, 'But the Altamaha is mine.' In this wonderfully fearless narrative, Ray takes her readers into the haunts of giant catfish and rare trees. Enormous blackberries picked in the Altamaha’s swamps, and cancer clusters that include close relations who live near a nuclear power plant, illustrate as never before the link between body and place. In the generously personal prose we count on from Janisse Ray, we are renewed by stories of people who have begun to 'reconcile themselves with their landscape, with their home, and with each other.' And we see how, as they do, Georgia’s irreplaceable 137-mile 'Little Amazon,' also begins to win.

(Susan Cerulean author of Tracking Desire: A Journey after Swallow-tailed Kites)

In Ray’s Drifting into Darien readers will feel the poetic beauty enjoyment, and power of paddling in Georgia’s Altamaha River.

(Bob Edmonds McCormick Messenger)

An idiosyncratic and passionate book, Drifting Into Darien is Ray’s own call to the river―something between a poem and a prayer, a sermon and a scientific study, a memoir and a field journal. Opening with a week-long kayak trip made with a group of people in memory of the old rafting crews that floated logs down river several generations earlier (when there was still longleaf pine forest to cut), Ray mixes memories with modern-day observations and insight, and becomes a shaman and guide to the reader.

(Nicki Leone BiblioBuffet)

Ray, who danced nature writing into new and fertile terrain with An Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, introduces readers to one of the glories of the South, the Altamaha River. . . . Ray's encompassing, gracefully informative homage to what the Nature Conservancy has designated as one of the '75 Last Great Places' in the world is ecstatic and incensed.

(Booklist)

Ray has produced an entertaining and provocative work with vivid descriptions. The book leads readers into thinking about their interactions with the world around them as it provides rich historical and cultural insight into this remarkable geographical feature. It also presents a compelling argument for preservation as opposed to greed.

(Atlanta Senior News )

About the Author

JANISSE RAY is the author of Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land, Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home, the best-selling Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, and The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. She is also the author of a poetry collection, A House of Branches, and coeditor of Between Two Rivers: Stories from the Red Hills to the Gulf. She lives in the Altamaha Community in Reidsville, Georgia.
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Product Details

  • Series: Wormsloe Foundation Nature Book Ser.
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082033815X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820338156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,416,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Lardin on January 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Janisse Ray grew up in South Georgia, before industrialized agriculture and forestry became the accepted norm. She passionately loves the Altamaha River and the Georgia countryside, and laments it's continued destruction at the hands of brutal, soulless people and corporations. As a Georgia resident who spent some years growing up on a small farm in rural Georgia near the Ocmulgee River, which feeds into the Altamaha River, I share her despair at what is happening to this once exquisitely beautiful state. Our politicians and the lobbyists who own them are so profoundly short-sighted and greedy, and so corrupt, that most of the remaining natural beauty of this state is at risk of imminent ruin. What will be left for our children and grandchildren, and all the generations to come? They don't care.
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Format: Hardcover
For those of you who are already fans of Janisse Ray's writings you will not be disappointed. As with her other books, Drifting into Darien has a mix of nature and environmental activism along with many personal stories. Her passion for life and passion for caring for the natural world are clear. Some chapters, such as the one which discusses how the government classifies forests and ones about the destruction of our rivers are frustrating to read. They are well written and highlight some failings of our public policy makers. Others like the chapter on botanists were hilarious to read because I can see myself and certain friends fitting the description. All in all, a great read.
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Part fiery environmentalist's polemic, part homage to her home and her spiritual center, and a personal tribute to many of the individuals actively engaged in protecting and promoting that home today, Ray's "Drifting Into Darien" is an engaging read, especially for those of us who love Georgia's remaining wild places. (Full disclosure: I am originally from so far north, I don't even qualify as a "damned Yankee," being Canadian by birth, but I have called Georgia home for over 27 years now, almost half my adult life.) As we read, we learn that a river and its surrounding lands, its sources, its tributaries and its lasting effects on everything from agriculture to transportation are so much more than meets the eye. Ray draws us in, and makes us want to go out and work for our own places (of origin or of current residence) with the same white-hot love she feels for the Altamaha river basin, its swamps and floodplains, its rich zoology, its changing seasons, and its human inhabitants.
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I have made this same trip and Janisse puts into words so many of my feelings.
This is a must read for any Environmental Science Student in or out of school.
I got double my money since it is practically two books artfully pulled into one.
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I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed this selection. I enjoyed Ms Ray's writing style,her words flow just like the river she writes about. I live not far from the Altamaha,have canoed down some of it, didn't realize what we had and will do my parT in helping to maintain and preserve this jewel in Georgia.
It is a great read and really helps you understand how we all are depend on each other....bugs,critters included.
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If you don't think global warming is an issue, or you refuse to believe we are destroying the planet, then you shouldn't read this book because Ray will change your mind. There is no way anyone could read this account of a kayak trip down the Altamaha River and remain blind to the beauty we are quietly losing. Here is tremendous joy and respect for the river, its inhabitants, its history. Hers is not an in-your-face approach, but rather a poetic gathering of experience that testifies sweetly of our connection to the natural world. When she speaks the names of long lists of threatened and disappearing birds, it is, to me, like the reading of the names of those killed 9/11- we speak the names of family we've lost to tell their story, to share our grief, to urge ourselves to action.
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Janisse Ray is a writer whom I have enjoyed before reading this present book, Drifting into Darien. She shares a very personal and intense love of the Altamaha River and transmits this love to her readers with descriptions of the animals and plants surrounding the river. But the book will appeal to any person who cares about the environment and the future of our lives.
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What can I say? I am totally smitten by the writings of Janisse Ray, the author of this book. She speaks to me in her unique strong Southern woman voice. She is SUCH an advocate of taking care of planet earth in general and the Altamaha River specifically. The river has a great protector in this woman. The book is about a trip down the Altamaha to the Georgia coast line. Every day was an adventure. It is all well documented in this book. This book is sort of the companion piece to "Altamaha-A River and its Keeper". I give this book my highest endorsement.
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