My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America on the Hudson
DescriptionAfter journalist Jessica DuLong was laid off from her dot-com job, her life took an unexpected turn. A volunteer day aboard an antique fireboat, the John J. Harvey, led to a job in the engine room, where she found a taste of home she hadn't realized she was missing. Working with the boat's finely crafted machinery, on the waters of the storied Hudson, made her wonder what America is losing in our shift away from hands-on work. Her questions crystallized after she and her crew served at Ground Zero, where fireboats provided the only water available to fight blazes. Vivid and immediate, My River Chronicles is a journey with an extraordinary guide--a mechanic's daughter and Stanford graduate who bridges blue-collar and white-collar worlds, turning a phrase as deftly as she does a wrench. As she searches for the meaning of work in America, DuLong shares her own experiences of learning to navigate a traditionally male world, masterfully interweaving unforgettable present-day characters and events with four centuries of Hudson River history. A celebration of craftsmanship, My River Chronicles is a deeply personal story of a unique woman's discovery of her own roots--and America's--that raises important questions about our nation's future.
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About the Author
Journalist and historian Jessica DuLong is the author of My River Chronicles: Rediscovering the Work that Built America, winner of the American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award for Memoir, 2010. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek International, Rolling Stone, Psychology Today, Newsday, and Maritime Reporter & Engineering News, among other publications. A Coast Guard-licensed merchant marine officer, DuLong serves as chief engineer of retired 1931 New York City fireboat John J. Harvey, a historic preservation project now operating as a living museum, which was called back into service on September 11.
Jessica DuLong's elegantly written My River Chronicles brings the past of the Hudson River into the vivid present and carries forward the craft of literary non-fiction with grace and energy. - Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life and Unto the Sons
She details her often exhilarating experiences in her very fine and gutsy book. Ms. DuLong is a confident and sensual writer, as perceptive about small matters on a boat as was Anthony Bourdain, in Kitchen Confidential, about everyday events in a professional kitchen. . . . Readers will feel their own little yelps of glee all over My River Chronicles. - The New York Times ArtsBeat blog
The engine room is, in DuLong's opinion, a tribute to an era of craftsmanship that is very nearly extinct. - The New Yorker
Smart, captivating prose . . . [Readers] will love this unusual mix of history, adventure, feminism and blue-collar know-how. Highly recommended. - Library Journal
When Jessica DuLong describes her work in the engine room of the John J. Harvey, you can practically feel the throb of the boat's mighty diesels. This is someone who has paid some dues, and it shows in the details. Her view through a narrow portal at the water line opens into a bigger picture of the Hudson River, the economy of New York, and the dignity of work - the kind of work that is genuinely useful. My River Chronicles is an account of what made this country thrive, and might yet again: men and women who aren't content to stand around with their hands in their pockets. The book reeks of penetrating oil, which may be just what is needed to get our economy, and our culture, moving again. - Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
In rich and captivating prose, Jessica DuLong kindly invites the rest of us on the journey of her lifetime: from a dot-com job to the fabled waters of the Hudson River, where she became a fireboat engineer. This is an unusual and fascinating book. - Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House and Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship
As both a writer and an engineer, she's relentlessly, gratifyingly curious, and her fine, richly detailed prose holds an appeal regardless of your level of interest in heritage histories and engine mechanics. . . . [T]he whole book is so layered and compelling that the intensity of 9/11 doesn't overpower the slower, more meditative sections. . . . DuLong's passion for her craft is contagious, making My River Chronicles one of the most moving, unusual books I've read in a long time. - Bookslut
Jessica DuLong is a lucky woman. She stumbled into an obscure world- the overheated engine room of an old fireboat - and discovered that she belonged there. Readers are lucky, too, because she has managed to translate her love affair with the water into a finely written and fascinating story about a lost American way of life. - Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic
If you've ever wondered what we're missing by sitting at computers in cubicles all day, follow Jessica DuLong when she loses her desk job and embarks on this unlikely but fantastic voyage. Deeply original, riveting to read, and soul-bearingly honest, My River Chronicles is a surprisingly infectious romance about a young woman falling in love with a muscle-y old boat. As DuLong learns to navigate her way through a man's world of tools and engines, and across the swirling currents of a temperamental river, her book also becomes a love letter to a nation. In tune with the challenges of our times, DuLong reminds us of the skills and dedication that built America, and inspires us to renew ourselves once again. - Trevor Corson, author of The Story of Sushi and The Secret Life of Lobsters
An engaging narrative. --The New York Times