Read Journey on the James: Three Weeks Through the Heart of Virginia by Earl Swift Free Online
Book Title: Journey on the James: Three Weeks Through the Heart of Virginia|
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Reader ratings: 6.5
The author of the book: Earl Swift
Edition: University of Virginia Press
Date of issue: April 29th 2002
ISBN 13: 9780813921198
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 998 KB
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From its beginnings as a trickle of icy water in Virginia's northwest corner to its miles-wide mouth at Hampton Roads, the James River has witnessed more recorded history than any other feature of the American landscape -- as home to the continent's first successful English settlement, highway for Native Americans and early colonists, battleground in the Revolution and the Civil War, and birthplace of America's twentieth-century navy.
In 1998, restless in his job as a reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Earl Swift landed an assignment traveling the entire length of the James. He hadn't been in a canoe since his days as a Boy Scout, and he knew that the river boasts whitewater, not to mention man-made obstacles, to challenge even experienced paddlers. But reinforced by Pilot photographer Ian Martin and a lot of freeze-dried food and beer, Swift set out to immerse himself -- he hoped not literally -- in the river and its history.
What Swift survived to bring us is this engrossing chronicle of three weeks in a fourteen-foot plastic canoe and four hundred years in the life of Virginia. Fueled by humor and a dauntless curiosity about the land, buildings, and people on the banks, and anchored by his sidekick Martin -- whose photographs accompany the text -- Swift points his bow through the ghosts of a frontier past, past Confederate forts and POW camps, antebellum mills, ruined canals, vanished towns, and effluent-spewing industry. Along the banks, lonely meadowlands alternate with suburbs and power plants, marinas and the gleaming skyscrapers of Richmond's New South downtown. Enduring dunkings, wolf spiders, near-arrest, channel fever, and twenty-knot winds, Swift makes it to the Chesapeake Bay.
Readers who accompany him through his Journey on the James will come away with the accumulated pleasure, if not the bruises and mud, of four hundred miles of adventure and history in the life of one of America's great watersheds.
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Read information about the authorEarl Swift began writing for a living in his teens. In the years since, the Virginia-based journalist has been a Fulbright fellow, PEN finalist and six-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, and has earned a reputation for powerful narrative and scrupulous reporting.
Swift wrote for newspapers in St. Louis, Anchorage and, for twenty-two years, in Norfolk, where his long-form features won numerous state and national awards. His stories have also appeared in Outside, PARADE, Popular Mechanics, The Atlantic Cities, America's Best Newspaper Writing, Our State, and River Teeth.
He is the author of AUTO BIOGRAPHY: A Classic Car, An Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream (HarperCollins, 2014), a narrative journey through postwar America told through a single old car and the fourteen people who've owned it; THE BIG ROADS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), an armchair history of the interstate highway system and its effects, physical and cultural, on the nation it binds; JOURNEY ON THE JAMES (University of Virginia Press, 2001), the story of a great American river and the largely untold history that has unfolded in and around it; WHERE THEY LAY: Searching for America's Lost Soldiers (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), for which he accompanied an Army archaeological team into the jungles of Laos in search of a helicopter crew shot down thirty years before; and a 2007 collection of his stories, THE TANGIERMAN'S LAMENT (UVa Press).
He also co-authored, with Macon Brock, ONE BUCK AT A TIME (Beachnut/John F. Blair, 2017), an insider's account of Dollar Tree's rise from loopy idea to retail juggernaut. The book was chosen for J.P. Morgan's summer reading list in 2017.
An avid outdoorsman, Swift has through-hiked the Appalachian Trail, circumnavigated the Chesapeake Bay by sea kayak, and canoed the 435-mile James River from source to sea.
Since 2012 he's been a residential fellow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia. He lives with his 24-year-old daughter, Saylor, in Crozet, Virginia, and is engaged to the fetching Amy Walton of Virginia Beach.