Book Review: The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau’s River Years by Robert M. Thorson

Most biographers have ignored Henry David Thoreau’s relationship to the river but Robert Thorson here aims to correct this narrow focus by arguing that the river – the active ever-changing water bustiling with activity both human and natural – is as much a part of Thoreau’s canon and its landscape as the still water of Walden Pond. In this book Thorson envisions Thoreau’s environment as a hybrid of land and water, and the man as a boatman as much as a woodsman. Continue reading

Review: Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas: “Food and Work in the Americas” edited by Susan Levine and Steve Striffler

The essays in Labor seek to provide its readers with sustainable analysis of the unbreakable linkage of food and labor in different periods and locations of the Americas, thus successfully unveiling food as the crucial but often hidden aspect of production work. Continue reading

Sea Birds, Castaways, and Phantom Islands off Newfoundland

On the twentieth of April 1534, Jacques Cartier sailed from St. Malo, France, with two ships and sixty-one men aboard each. On the tenth of May they came to Newfoundland at Cape Bonavista. On the twenty-first of May they sailed Northeast until they came upon an island encompassed by a jumble of broken ice which Cartier named l’Isle des Ouaisseaulx (Isle of Birds), as it’s surface was covered with nesting sea birds and the cries of thousands more filled the air overhead. Continue reading