History Tom Lewis The Hudson: A History

ISBN 13: 9780300104240

The Hudson: A History

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9780300104240: The Hudson: A History

Flowing through a valley of sublime scenery, the Hudson River uniquely connects America’s past with its present and future. This book traces the course of the river through four centuries, recounting the stories of explorers and traders, artists and writers, entrepreneurs and industrialists, ecologists and preservationists—those who have been shaped by the river as well as those who have helped shape it. Their compelling narratives attest to the Hudson River’s distinctive place in American history and the American imagination.

Among those who have figured in the history of the Hudson are Benedict Arnold, Alexander Hamilton, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Astors and the Vanderbilts, and Thomas Cole of the Hudson River school. Their stories appear here, alongside those of such less famous individuals as the surveyor who found the source of the Hudson and the engineer who tried to build a hydroelectric plant at Storm King Mountain. Inviting us to view the river from a wider perspective than ever before, this entertaining and enlightening book is worthy of its grand subject.


 

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From the Publisher:

"Few places in America can match the beauty, the majesty, and the historic significance of the Hudson River. Thanks to Tom Lewis's elegant style, penetrating observations, and marvelous illustrations, we at last have a book worthy of such a grand topic."—Kenneth T. Jackson, Editor of The Encyclopedia of New York

From the Author:

Q: In your book, you describe the Hudson as a river of firsts.” What do you mean by that?

A: The Hudson holds a unique place in American history. Our first explorers and settlers regarded it as the avenue into our continent’s vast uncharted interior; in the Revolution, George Washington considered it the first line of defense. The Hudson Valley was the setting for America’s first great writers and painters. Millions of immigrants encountered the Hudson when they first landed in America; the Hudson’s deepwater port helped New York City become the nation’s foremost financial center. And more recently, at Storm King Mountain the river became the first battleground of environmentalists. These are just a few of the firsts that I’ve tried to bring to life in this history.

Q: Why has the Hudson River loomed so large in the American imagination?

A: Like all rivers, it has a utilitarian function for travel and commerce, but the Hudson has never been just a river. For four centuries the Hudson Valley has been a vast stage on which we have acted out our desires and dreams be they noble like Thomas Cole’s landscapes of the Catskills or ignoble like Benedict Arnold’s betrayal of the American cause at West Point. On the Hudson we have displayed all of our virtues and not a few of our vices.

Q: In the past, you’ve written about the history of American radio and the national highway system. How did you decide to write the history of a river?

A: I’ve always been inspired by the physical place and its past, and for the last four decades I’ve been fortunate enough to live in the Hudson River valley, first in New York City where I walked daily on the riverbank and now in Saratoga Springs close to the pivotal battle of the American Revolution and the river’s source. I had to write this book.

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