2010 ASJA Outstanding Book Award
When journalist Jessica DuLong ditched her dotcom desk job to ply the waters of the Hudson River as engineer of a rusty antique fireboat, she found a taste of home in a maritime community that was quickly disappearing.
My River Chronicles is a journey with an extraordinary guide. Once Jessica DuLong started toiling in the engine room of Fireboat John J. Harvey, she never looked back. The more time she spent with the boat’s finely crafted machinery, the more she wondered what America is losing in our shift away from hands-on work.
Her service pumping water to fight blazes at Ground Zero following the September 11, 2001 attacks reinforced in her mind the importance of blue-collar skills. Masterfully grounding her own experiences with narratives from the river’s rich history, she introduces us to 17th-century explorers, 19th-century canal builders, and a cast of present-day characters—including a salvage diver hunting sunken tugboats, a foundryman who casts iron in the old way, and a distiller who crafts bourbon from local corn—that reminds us how colorful and dynamic the Hudson continues to be.
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.