Natural Lives, Modern Times: People and Places of the Delaware River

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The Delaware River flows out of New York's Catskill Mountains and winds its way through woodland and rural farmland, through the great Water Gap ravine, and finally past one of the world's most industrialized riverfronts. Yet it remains one of the country's last undammed rivers, with a natural life as rich and varied as its human history.

In Natural Lives, Modern Times, Bruce Stutz has written a thoroughly modern natural history, blending keen observations of the nature of the Delaware's enduring complex of river, glacial streams, marshlands, and forest with glimpses of history and folklore and with luminous portraits of those whose lives are sustained by the river. The Delaware was the waterway of the nation's first mercantile, philosophical, scientific, cultural, and industrial heartland, hosting immigrants from Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean, all looking for new lives along the ancient river.

In this always entertaining and often haunting intertwining of human and natural history, Bruce Stutz discovers those who regret what has been lost and those passionate about preserving what remains. Most of all, however, he lets us see what's at stake in a wonderfully diverse world. Not since Mark Twain has anyone taken such a freewheeling river journey.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Piquant, and uncommonly eloquent."—Kirkus Reviews

"Stutz is an eloquent advocate for the river and the region's preservation."—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The East and West branches of the Delaware River rise in shallow mountain streams and flow across the Catskills, meeting at Hancock, N.Y. Its main stretch, bordering New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is the longest undammed river on the East Coast; for 75 miles, between Hancock and Port Jervis, N.Y., it is a ``wild and scenic river,'' popular with canoeists. Deftly interweaving strands of social, industrial and natural history, Stutz, features editor at Audubon magazine, takes us on a 350-mile journey northward from the river's mouth in Delaware. He covers an area rich in history, once rich in natural resources--oysters, shad, turtles, timber, mammals--and, in mid-19th century, a major manufacturing center. Old-timersokay with lifetime also in sentence?/don't need it along the river talk about changes; scientists detail the decline of wildlife. Charting the rise of industry and pollution as he moves toward Philadelphia and Trenton, N.J., the author looks also at the rush for development in the Poconos. The journey ends at Eel Weir Hollow on the East Branch just north of Hancock. Evoking the past as he contemplates the present, Stutz is an eloquent advocate for the river and the region's preservation. (May)
Library Journal
This delightful book portrays the Delaware River from its outlet in New Jersey and Delaware to its source in New York. The author, an editor of Audubon magazine, acts at various times as ecologist, naturalist, and social commentator while chronicling the impact of the river on people's lives and the land. Some of his characters love the river and its shore, others wish to destroy it. Stutz vividly describes the damage wrought by developers in the Poconos and the loss of the lower river's marshlands, vital habitat for its animals and plants. He also covers the effect on residents of failing industries in Philadelphia and Trenton. For all collections.-- George M. Jenks, Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812216585
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Series: Pennsylvania Paperbacks
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,576,459
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Stutz is editor of Natural History Magazine. His articles on science, natural history, and the environment have appeared in the Atlantic, the New York Times, and many other magazines and newspapers.

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