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THE RIVERKEEPER
by Alec Wilkinson
Alfred A. Knopf, NY - ISBN 0-394-57313-7
 

RiverkeeperWater is one of Nature’s most precious resources, yet many people abuse it with the thought, "There’s always more where that came from."

In his book, The Riverkeeper, Alec Wilkinson explores the lives of Americans who work on the water–environmentalists on the Hudson River, Indians in the Pacific Ocean off Alaska, and commercial fishermen in the North Atlantic.

Of the three stories in this book, the last is not only the one he named his book after but also the most moving. It’s about the blatant taking of Hudson River water for use in the Caribbean. In other words, someone was selling what is essentially free water without permission of the local authorities.

The story centers around John Cronin who patrols the river for the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association. He’s the Riverkeeper. In this readers learn about the abundance of life beneath the silty surface of the Hudson River, as well as it rhythms and habits and the threats to its vitality. This is the story of a man obsessed with protecting the river.

Wilkinson moves from civilization to its edge with narry a hiccup in "The Uncommitted Crime." Here is tells the story of Matthew Kookesh, a Tlinguit Indian living in a small frontier settlement in southeast Alaska. Kookesh fishes for salmon the way his ancestors have for thousands of years, and he wants to preserve that. Wilkinson interweaves Tlinguit history and culture into his story about Kookesh who like his people, feel that white people wrongly took their lands as part of Alaska.

In the Blessing of the Fleet, Wilkinson investigates fishing off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts–its riches and joys, its failures and dangers. Portuguese sailors came to these shores long ago to work on whaling ships. Today, they man their own fleet of fishing boats. Wilkinson introduces his readers to the insular, expatriate and daredevil lives of these fishermen.

This is an exceptional work of literary journalism, at times disturbing and at others profound. It tells the stories of men and women trying against powerful odds to save what they love of their pasts in the hope of preserving their future.

Buy this book...

 

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