Monday, November 2, 2009

River of Dreams: the Story of the Hudson River


River of Dreams: the Story of the Hudson River
by Hudson Talbott
Putnam's, 2009. Unpaged. Juvenile Non-Fiction.
Talbott's beautifully illustrated capsule history of the Hudson River Valley begins with the glaciation that created the riverbed, takes the reader through the Mahican and Lenni-Lenape Indian days on the river, through the Dutch and British settlements, to the role activities along the Hudson played in the American Revolution. Talbott's timeline winds along the river itself and text and illustrations provide a rich reminder of the culture of the region, from Washington Irving's Headless Horseman to the Hudson River School of American painting. The latter stages of the book are devoted to the horrific pollution of the Hudson and its redemption thanks to Franny Reese and Scenic Hudson, an association of people dedicated to the preservation of landscape and wildlife, which essentially gave birth to the modern environmental movement. The text is somewhat marred by the inexplicable omission of "the homeless" from Emma Lazarus' famous quotation on the Statue of Liberty, but on the whole this is a fascinating history of one of the great American rivers and what happened on and about it.

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