If all of the world's rivers formed a giant continuous watershed (which in a sense they do), I'd put-in at the top and proceed to ride, glide and meander my way down the arteries of our earth. As I entered into each unique river system - Congo, Amazon, Seine, Futaleufu, Siuslaw, Mississippi, Narmada - the human and natural histories of each river would be revealed to me, uncovered, discovered like the layers of time and tide of the Grand Canyon. At the take-out I'd be changed. I'd better understand John Calderazzo's observation that a river can "turn into a state of mind, a kind of feeling." That is the gift of rivers. Of course, there is no such thing as a put-in at the top of the world's watershed, but just as good is Pamela Michael's book, "The Gift of Rivers." Turn the page, enter into river time, hear the stories, and fall in love with our watery ancestors, the world's rivers.
This book really is a gift. Once you read former Poet Laureate Robert Hass's beautiful introduction, you won't want to stop -- and you won't be disappointed. We're talking range here -- from Isabel Allende's Amazon to Lorian Hemingway's Arkansas to William Least Heat-Moon's Mississippi ... and from icy mountain torrents like the En in Switzerland to cultural main streets like the Seine in France and the Nile in Egypt and the Ganges in India, to rivers choked by industry and neglect like the Columbia in the U.S. -- honestly, you'll laugh, you'll cry.
I feel fortunate to have had the chance to read the precious river stories contained in this collection. Some brought me and my friends to fits of laughter, others to tears and amazement- most of all they inspired us to listen more carefully to the rivers and waterways that bring nourishment and joy to all our lives. Thank you Pamela Michael for sharing these stories from around the world with us!