In 2001, journalist Jessica DuLong ditched her dotcom desk job for the diesel engines of a rusty antique fireboat, the John J. Harvey, and the storied waters of the Hudson. My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America on the Hudson, tells the story of this mechanic's daughter and Stanford graduate who had left her blue-collar upbringing behind until the fireboat drew her back, offering a chance to become an engineer and a taste of home she hadn't realized she was missing.The more time DuLong spent toiling in the engine room, running the boat's finely crafted machinery, the more she wondered what America is losing in our shift away from hands-on work. These questions crystallized in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, when the FDNY called the retired fireboat back into service, and DuLong and the rest of the boat's civilian crew pumped water to fight blazes at Ground Zero. As blue-collar workers clambered on the pile, DuLong was struck by the dignity of physical labor and the honor of having joined the world of skilled labor whose talents were useful at the site.DuLong brings her two worlds vibrantly to life in this beautifully written memoir that evokes the vitality of New York City's bygone working waterfront and the Hudson River, a birthplace of American industry. Blending four centuries of Hudson River history with unforgettable present-day characters and events, DuLong offers a porthole-view narrative of the river and its social tapestry as a microcosm of postindustrial America.While searching along the river's edge for the meaning of work in America, DuLong pays homage to our industrial past and raises important questions about the future at this pivotal moment in our national story. My River Chronicles is a journey with an extraordinary guide, a woman who bridges blue collar and white.More
The elimination of her dot-com job in New York City was the start of a new life for Jessica DuLong, who found herself working as an engineer on a Hudson River fireboat. DuLong characterizes herself as small but strong, and that would be a good way to describe her voice as she tells about her participation in World Trade Center rescue efforts and her quest to rehabilitate a tugboat. DuLong gradually pulls listeners into her life on the water as she shares the history of the Hudson and makes a pitch for a return to a hands-on life. Thoughtful and fascinating, this is a unique story of New York.
"An unexpected portrayal of America in the decline of industry, delivered from the unique vantage point of the Hudson River....Powerful." (Kirkus)
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For the Adventure!
- Daniel Thompson