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Nine Ways to Cross a River: Midstream Reflections on Swimming and Getting There from Here Hardcover – July 10, 2007
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Heraclitus famously noted that you can't step into the same river twice, and Hudson Valley author Busch (Geography of Home) reaches this literal truth by swimming across nine different rivers—many once polluted beyond recognition—in order to "reclaim" them for personal and communal renewal. An avid swimmer, Busch resolved to swim across these rivers (with friends, in summer and during benevolent weather conditions) over the course of four years, despite repeated local admonitions not to go in the water: from the upper Hudson, where she resides, to the Delaware, Connecticut, Susquehanna, Monongahela, Cheat, Mississippi, Ohio and Current Rivers. Along the way she shares delightful lore about these important waterways, insinuating aspects of each river's particular history and beauty, such as that the Hudson was called "the river that flows two ways" by the local Algonquin; the Susquehanna is listed as the most polluted river; the Mississippi is the longest and most changing; while the Current in Missouri is the clearest. Busch enlists reflections from environmentalists and nature writers such as Edward Abbey and Thoreau, and taps into local organizations (e.g., Pete Seeger's) that claim that swimming in a river leads to a sense of stewardship. Busch's journey across these rivers becomes an elegant metaphor for life. (July)
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Busch has the gift of seeing the world new, and here brings her contemplative intelligence to nature, chronicling her intimate involvement with rivers. Busch swam across the river she loves best, the Hudson, in August 2001, and somehow the tragic events that followed made it seem "essential to mark each summer after that with a river crossing." Not that Busch is interested in athletic feats. Instead, her immersions literally and figuratively in the Delaware, Connecticut, Susquehanna, Monongahela, Mississippi, and other rivers involve pondering each one's complex and telling history, particularly its "industrial archaeology." As Busch details the grave abuses rivers have sustained and profiles various river keepers, including the Hudson's most famous advocate, Pete Seeger, she recognizes that as "the damage arrives collectively, so too does recovery." Writing with a swimmer's economy, propulsion, and buoyancy, Busch muses with quietly thrilling originality and resonance over the profound metaphors and life lessons rivers embody. In all, a beautiful and gracefully enlightening book of riverine reflections. Donna Seaman
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