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The Third Coast: Sailors, Strippers, Fishermen, Folksingers, Long-Haired Ojibway Painters, and God-Save-the-Queen Monarchists of the Great Lakes Hardcover – February 1, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Southern pride is everywhere, from the radio to the presidency, but not much time or media coverage is devoted to northern pride, the essence of McClelland’s book oriented on the Great Lakes and the lands that surround them—the Freshwater Nation. Crossing borders and circumnavigating the lakes, McClelland made an almost 10,000-mile journey from Chicago to Wisconsin to upper Michigan to (via Isle Royale) Minnesota to Ontario to New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and through lower Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana. His conversations with such characters met en route as Yuri the sailor and Oil Can Eddie constitute one of the book’s definite pleasures. Visits to the drunkest city in America (Milwaukee), the world’s largest barber pole, and natural wonders and their environs (Downtown Niagara Falls . . . looks like a carnival that has put down roots and incorporated itself); chats with Canadians who remain staunch Loyalists (to the crown, that is); and an REO Speedwagon–Styx concert at a county fair near Lake Erie are others this hearty, good-natured homage affords. --June Sawyers

Review

"[A] hearty, good-natured homage."   —Booklist


"The author struts an extensive knowledge of the area that makes this a must for fans of travel literature."  —Kirkus Reviews


Captures a slice of North Americana with the precision of a Walker Evans photograph, and sentences worthy of John McPhee."  —Neal Pollack, author, Alternadad


"To [Ted McClelland], the North is a state of mind, and it is the Great Lakes region that fuels his imagination."  —Chicago Tribune


"Is there a Great Lakes culture? Damned straight, and Ted McClelland nails it."  —Jerry Dennis, author, The Living Great Lakes and A Place on the Water



"The Third Coast is much like the place it chronicles: interesting, not at all ostentatious, and a great amount of fun."  —Tom Bissell, author, The Father of All Things


"[A] quirky travelogue."  —Kenosha News



"A very good read. I learned more about the Great Lakes region from it than I had in a half century of living in Michigan."  —The Bay City Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556527217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556527210
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my husband, and swiped it from him one night when I had nothing to read. To my surprise, I couldn't put it down. Chapter by chapter, the author paints a colorful and enchanting portrait of grand, sometimes deadly lakes, fascinating places, and even more captivating people. As a 16-year resident of Michigan, I found I had been to many of the places McClelland describes, yet with his keenly observed eye for detail and story, he uncovered these places in wonderful ways and made me want to go back!
I loved the quirky people along the way; indeed, this is a book of travel essays that reads like a novel.
McClelland is a writer's writer, a droll and witty wordsmith whose writing isn't pretentious but is very good. I would call this book a true find, and would recommend this to anyone who likes to curl up in a chair and get lost in a story (or 20 stories!). Especially, "The Third Coast" will stir pride in anyone who lives on or near the great, Great Lakes.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wanted this book as I had just done the Lake Superior Circle. It is interesting and he found many off the main road sites.
Many of the things he wrote about happened by circumstance and may not be available to the average tourist. Overall, if you are planning on visiting any of the Great Lakes use this as a guide.
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Format: Hardcover
The author takes you on a fascinating tour of the Great Lakes, discovering people and places that make this part of the Midwest so unique. As a lifelong Michigan resident and frequent visitor to Canada, Mr. McClelland's portrayal of the residents of the Great Lakes was spot on, and I often found myself laughing out loud at the quirkiness of their behavior. This book is essential for anyone looking to travel this section of the world, or at least learn about the culture and its origin. I couldn't put it down!
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By 5/0 on January 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Third Coast" by Ted McClelland is an unsung American Classic that should be taught in all high school and college American Literature classes. "The Third Coast" literally puts many, no, most, books currently termed American Literature to shame. It is in the same genre as John Steinbeck's rightfully famous "Travels with Charley" or Kurault's "On the Road with Charles Kurault" but "The Third Coast" is markedly better. Neither Ernest Hemmingway nor any of his contemporaries could have written anything as good even if they had lived to be 500. And for the aficionado of local histories, "The Third Coast" is pure 24k Gold.
In a nutshell, McClelland spent 109 days driving more than 9,000 miles around all five of our Great Lakes; meeting people, exploring Lakes' history and lore, visiting offbeat places as well as famous landmarks, and learning the signature attitudes, traditions and cultures of the hometown peoples who live by the Lakes'. And the Lakes' people and culture is every bit as unique and interesting as those of The South, The Wild West, California, and possibly Mars.
Imagine going on an extended, leisurely vacation through History and a gorgeous and awesomely vigorous country with Mark Twain or Will Rogers as your travelling companion. McClelland's skills as an observer and the crisp freshness of his writing style are superlative... or better. His stunning command of Prose combined with his delightful candor and sly Twain-istic Wit makes the journey (and the pages) seem to flash by. Fact is: "The Third Coast" is a book you could thoroughly enjoy simply for the excellence of the writing regardless of whether you had any interest in the topic. I was on page 117 before I remembered to take a sip of my Pepsi ! You'll love it !
before I remembered to take a sip of my Pepsi ! You'll love it !
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book immensely. McClelland circles all of the Great Lakes, finding interesting people and places and putting them into cultural and historical context. The book is beautifully written, funny, and insightful. I am a native of the Great Lakes region, but I don't think you have to be to appreciate the book. I actually found it to be a page-turner, wondering what the author was going to discover next.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having an interest in Great Lakes History and spending a lot of time there the last 10 years, I really enjoyed it. I grew up in Michigan and didn't see too much of the state until I'd been gone about 20 years. I have been many of the places he mentioned, so it was easy to picture what he talked about.
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Format: Hardcover
By Vic Foerster (Grand Rapids, MI USA)

Starting from his lakeside apartment in Chicago, Ted McClelland goes for a drive--a long drive. With the blessing of his publisher, McClelland goes in search of what he calls the "Fresh Water Nation." Always keeping the water to his right, he circumnavigates every Great Lake, a coastline longer than the entire Eastern and Western seaboards combined.

The Third Coast: Sailors, Strippers, Fishermen, Folksingers, Long-Haired Ojibway Painters, and God-Save-the-Queen Monarchists, is a contemporary look at the people who live around the Great Lakes. Suspecting we have as distinctive a culture as the Deep South or California, he seeks out individuals who reflect that culture, and as the title suggests, Mr. McClelland has a knack for finding the more interesting residents.

He discovers that butchers are celebrities in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin and that Garrison Keeler is a superstar in St. Paul, Minnesota, a state that's the home of progressive politics; i.e. Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy and ... Bob Dylan. Traveling the remote north shore of Lake Superior, he learns that two of Canada's largest cities--Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, border the shore that most Americans think of as inside the Arctic Circle, and that to Canadians, the north shore of Lake Erie is the "deep south." He learns that the south shore of Lake Ontario is a laboratory for social progress--the jump off spot for the Underground Railroad, and home of women's suffrage and temperance.

Attending a Styx / REO Speedwagon concert in Cleveland, he recalls how arena rock bands, Davey & Goliath morality cartoons, and Great Lake mariners are icons of the area's culture.
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