In Old Man River, Paul Schneider tells the story of the river at the center of America’s rich history—the Mississippi. Some fifteen thousand years ago, the majestic river provided Paleolithic humans with the routes by which early man began to explore the continent’s interior. Since then, the river has been the site of historical significance, from the arrival of Spanish and French explorers in the 16th century to the Civil War. George Washington fought his first battle near the river, and Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman both came to President Lincoln’s attention after their spectacular victories on the lower Mississippi.In the 19th century, home-grown folk heroes such as Daniel Boone and the half-alligator, half-horse, Mike Fink, were creatures of the river. Mark Twain and Herman Melville led their characters down its stream in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Confidence-Man. A conduit of real-life American prowess, the Mississippi is also a river of stories and myth.
As a boy I played and fished along the Mississippi River as it wandered through St. Paul below our home on the Bluffs above the river. Later, I even took my fiancée on a date, a canoe outing near Pigs Eye downstream. I was bow and arrow fishing for carp (how romantic and she even married me). Later, when we moved downstream to teach and raise a family, I still took a boat out into the backwaters. As for the nation, the Big River has been an important thread running through Americas history and my life as well. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating retrospective of the Mississippi and its history… Old Man River.
Addendum: The really cool thing about the Mississippi as it winds its way between Minnesota and Wisconsin is you never know what your going to catch. One this day, I caught Mrs. T. who agreed to come along to read a book and work on her tan. And incidentally Minnesota's State Fish the delicious walleyed pike....:)