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The RIVERKEEPERS: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim Our Environment as a Basic Human Right

In the 1960s the Hudson River, under threat from polluters and energy concerns, beloved by its shoreline residents and local fishermen, became one of the United States' first major environmental battlegrounds. Out of those early legal wrangles emerged some important environmental legislation, and also the Soundkeeper organisation, with a mandate to fight for the health of this historic New York river.

This book reveals something about the organisation, even more about the history of the Hudson and of environmentalism in America, from John Winthrop to Newt Gingrich, and quite a bit, too, about the upbringings--glamorous (who'd have thought keeping a pet seal in your swimming pool would lead to activism?) and not-so-unusual--of its authors. Promising early chapters sketch out the exploitation of the river by industry, and describe some of its colourful champions. (One of the most interesting here is Robert H. Boyle, the writer of a seminal account of the Hudson, The Hudson River: A Natural and Unnatural History, who comes off as a hero.) A terrific final section explains in accessible terms the basis for environmental law in the founding of the United States. In between, this book sometimes falters under the weight of too much information. You can't fault these writers for the work they've done, or for the scattered gems of accessible, thoughtful information on the modern environmental movement that make this book worth reading. Just be prepared to pick through some irrelevancies (did Bobby Shriver really bring a leopard tortoise home for Robert Kennedy, Jr. from Kenya in a suitcase?) to get to the heart of this unusual book. --Maria Dolan,

Important places

Hudson River (21)


Rensselaer (41)


New York (9,763)


United States (64,950)

Other geographical areas

Appalachian Mountains (1,111)