Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck PDF

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Rinker Buck, in his new book Life on the Mississippi, takes his readers with him as he builds a flatboat modeled after those from the early 1800s. It takes a year, combining care for his aging mother with work on the boat, to build it before he sails the flatboat two thousand miles down the Mississippi to New Orleans. His account of the trip on his boat that he named Patience reminded me of a well-seasoned stew with all the parts that combined to make the whole.

First there are the advice-givers in every place his boat rests that repeat the warning of how dangerous the next phase of his trip will be. The constant prediction is that the Patience is going to be sucked under by whirlpools so strong that all the clothes of its passengers will be torn off. He is warned that the travelers themselves need to be prepared to die and that they need to advise their families of the awaiting doom since they will be identifying the passengers’ unclothed bodies. Everybody had a story of a shipwreck or someone lost on the river.

Other helpers and fellow travelers come and go as Rinker makes his way down the river. His characterizations of his fellow travelers make them characters in his story along with the locals that he meets along the way. His daring shipmates often take charge leaving him time to explore the books that feed his background for his trip and the history of the land as they move along.

Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck PDF Free Download Details

  • Book Title: Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck PDF
  • Author: Rinker Buck
  • Published: August 9th 2022 by Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster
  • Goodreads Link: Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck PDF
  • ISBN: 1501106376 (ISBN13: 9781501106378)
  • Formats: [PDF] [Epub]
  • No. of pages: 416 pages
  • Size: 3MB
  • Genre: Nonfiction, History
  • Language: English
  • File Status: Available
  • Price: $0

Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck Summary

Seven years ago, readers around the country fell in love with a singular American voice: Rinker Buck, whose infectious curiosity about history launched him across the West in a covered wagon pulled by mules and propelled his book about the trip, The Oregon Trail, to ten weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Now, Buck returns to chronicle his latest incredible adventure: building a wooden flatboat from the bygone era of the early 1800s and journeying down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

A modern-day Huck Finn, Buck casts off down the river on the flatboat Patience accompanied by an eccentric crew of daring shipmates. Over the course of his voyage, Buck steers his fragile wooden craft through narrow channels dominated by massive cargo barges, rescues his first mate gone overboard, sails blindly through fog, breaks his ribs not once but twice, and camps every night on sandbars, remote islands, and steep levees. As he charts his own journey, he also delivers a richly satisfying work of history that brings to life a lost era.

The role of the flatboat in our country’s evolution is far more significant than most Americans realize. Between 1800 and 1840, millions of farmers, merchants, and teenage adventurers embarked from states like Pennsylvania and Virginia on flatboats headed beyond the Appalachians to Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Like the Nile, the Thames, or the Seine before them, the western rivers in America became a floating supply chain that fueled national growth. Settler families repurposed the wood from their boats to build their first cabins in the wilderness; cargo boats were broken apart and sold to build the boomtowns along the water route. Joining the river traffic were floating brothels, called “gun boats”; “smithy boats” for blacksmiths; even “whiskey boats” with taverns mounted on jaunty rafts. In the present day, America’s inland rivers are a superhighway dominated by leviathan barges—carrying $80 billion of cargo annually—all descended from flatboats like the ramshackle Patience, which must avoid being crushed alongside their metal hulls.

As a historian, Buck resurrects the era’s adventurous spirit, but he also challenges familiar myths about American expansion, confronting the bloody truth behind settlers’ push for land and wealth. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced more than 125,000 members of the Cherokee, Choctaw, and several other tribes to travel the Mississippi on a brutal journey en route to the barrens of Oklahoma. Simultaneously, almost a million enslaved African Americans were carried in flatboats and marched by foot 1,000 miles over the Appalachians to the cotton and cane fields of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, birthing the term “sold down the river.” Weaving together a tapestry of first-person histories, Buck portrays this watershed era of American expansion as it was really lived.

With a rare narrative power that blends stirring adventure with absorbing untold history, Life on the Mississippi is a mus­cular and majestic feat of storytelling from a writer who may be the closest that we have today to Mark Twain.

Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck Review

Review by Virginia McGee Butler from Goodreads

Rinker Buck, in his new book Life on the Mississippi, takes his readers with him as he builds a flatboat modeled after those from the early 1800s. It takes a year, combining care for his aging mother with work on the boat, to build it before he sails the flatboat two thousand miles down the Mississippi to New Orleans. His account of the trip on his boat that he named Patience reminded me of a well-seasoned stew with all the parts that combined to make the whole.

First there are the advice-givers in every place his boat rests that repeat the warning of how dangerous the next phase of his trip will be. The constant prediction is that the Patience is going to be sucked under by whirlpools so strong that all the clothes of its passengers will be torn off. He is warned that the travelers themselves need to be prepared to die and that they need to advise their families of the awaiting doom since they will be identifying the passengers’ unclothed bodies. Everybody had a story of a shipwreck or someone lost on the river.

Other helpers and fellow travelers come and go as Rinker makes his way down the river. His characterizations of his fellow travelers make them characters in his story along with the locals that he meets along the way. His daring shipmates often take charge leaving him time to explore the books that feed his background for his trip and the history of the land as they move along.

The history of the river, its cities and rural areas, and its people are woven in geographically as the flatboat winds its way down the river, spliced in with whatever current challenge is happening with the Patience. In a spoiler alert, there were some broken ribs but the Patience made it all the way to New Orleans without being sucked under and none of the travelers died.

It would be hard to read this book without thinking of Mark Twain. I found it a very good way to take my mind off the coronavirus that had me laid up while I read it.

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