The Hudson


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A History

Tom Lewis

View Inside Format: Paper
Price: $24.00
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A vivid history of the Hudson River and how it has fired the American imagination for four hundred years

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.


Tom Lewis is professor of English at Skidmore College. Among his previous books are Divided Highways: The Interstate Highway System and the Transformation of American Life and Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio, both of which became award-winning documentaries.

"Water, per se, is not that interesting but rivers highlight and emphasize the land and lives and ideas that cram their banks. What Tom Lewis has so wonderfully done here is willed to life one of the great rivers in our history, insisting that it offer up its deep secrets and best stories."—Ken Burns

"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 City

"Avenue of the explorers, battlefield for empires, easel for artists, and dump for industry—the [Hudson River] has been a stage for epics since its namesake dropped anchor in 1609. . . . Spanning armies and aesthetics, the versatile, fluid Lewis writes with affection for the river and its history."—Booklist

"A concise account of the Valley. . . . The entire book is filled with fascinating tidbits of Valley lore. How Lewis packed so many facts into 280 pages is a testament to both his writing and research skills."—Hudson Valley Monthly

"The stories told here cut across the territorial, military, industrial, social, and cultural history of the United States. . . . A readable book."—Library Journal

"No book I know so beautifully interweaves history, art, writing and commerce."—Robert Richman, New York Post

"[A] highly entertaining and informative new history of the Hudson. . . . By the time Mr. Lewis finishes his tale, the reader shares his enthusiasm and is persuaded that the Hudson, as he insists, is 'the center of the nation's cultural geography'. . . . Mr. Lewis's narrative is full of charming nuggets. . . . The book is packed with information and free of pedantry, a perfect introduction to the region between New York Harbor and the Adirondacks."—Brooke Allen, New York Sun

"The book is packed with information and free of pedantry, a perfect introduction to the region.”—Brooke Allen, New York Sun

"A pleasant read."—Publishers Weekly

"It is especially good to have Tom Lewis’s new history, which tells the river’s story in full without scanting the folk tales and legends. . . . [A] first-rate book."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

"Lewis's engaging overview of the Valley during the past five centuries, and the region's national prominence during that time, fills an important gap. . . . Lewis is a fine wordsmith who targets literate readers in general rather then specialists. He's obviously done his professional homework. . . . The Hudson could also be the basis for a smashingly good script on the history of America's great fjord, and a occasion to devote more attention to our Valley's great transformation since since World War II."—Philip Ehrensaft, Chronogram Magazine

"The Hudson . . . is depicted in this first-rate history as the great national theater: avenue of explorers, military battleground, artists' inspiration and industrial dump."—New York Times Book Review (Paperback Row)

Selected for Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, 2006
ISBN: 9780300119909
Publication Date: May 29, 2007
352 pages, 6.125 x 9.25
33 b/w illus. + 40 maps