cover image The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers

The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers

Martin Doyle. Norton, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-24235-5

Doyle, professor of river science and policy at Duke University, pays tribute to America’s waterways in this worthy history, noting their importance to the country’s development and its basic identity. Covering such topics as trade, politics, and environmentalism, Doyle looks at how the Erie Canal, for example, helped facilitate trade and commerce between the North Atlantic coast and the “burgeoning West.” The “once obscure towns” of Syracuse, Utica, Rochester, and Buffalo developed as “hubs of nineteenth-century manufacturing and industrialization,” while New York City became an entry point for European “immigrants heading toward America’s interior.” Doyle then turns his attention to the Mississippi River and the establishment of levee systems and flood controls along it. His discussions with Mississippi River towboat pilot Donnie Randleman and towboat captain Robert “Howdy” Duty add color and character to the narrative. Doyle rounds out this volume by examining ways in which Americans have altered rivers over the years. Gross and negligent pollution of industrial waterways—one result of which was that the Cuyahoga River in Ohio infamously burned in 1969—would eventually give rise to movements for river conservation and restoration. Doyle tackles the shifts in how America has viewed and used its extensive waterways, producing a comprehensive and enjoyable account. Illus. (Feb.)