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In the Land of the Wild Onion
Travels Along Vermont’s Winooski River
Charles Fish

University of Vermont Press
2006 • 276 pp. 1 illus 6 x 9"
Nature / Vermont

$25.95 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-550-3

“Fish is an entertaining raconteur with a great story to tell and deep enthusiasm for relating it.”—Vermont Life

A lyrical and insightful journey of discovery down Vermont's Winooski River

Charles Fish, author of In Good Hands: The Keeping of a Family Farm and Blue Ribbons and Burlesque: A Book of Country Fairs, sets off on a journey down Vermont's Winooski River, from the headwaters in Cabot to river's end at Lake Champlain, in order to rediscover the river valley of his youth and to consider the power of place in all our lives. Recounting travels by foot, car, and canoe (which Fish christens “The Tub”), In the Land of the Wild Onion offers engaging and often humorous tales of adventures along the river, of impenetrable thickets and backbreaking portages, of battles with a recalcitrant canoe, of nights camping out among the mosquitoes.

The people Fish meets along the way spur discussions of geology, hydropower, hunting, fishing, farming, and tracking, to name a few. The chronicle of his journey is both a reminiscence of days spent living along the Winooski and a clear-eyed, deeply informative, and fascinating look at the changes and challenges to the habitat and resources of a river valley. What emerges is a portrait of the lives and rhythms of the valley, a rich and rewarding insight into how the land forms us and how we, its stewards, care for the land. Anyone with an interest in nature writing or local and regional resource management will profit from this well-told tale of one of Vermont's great rivers.

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In the Land of the Wild Onion is an important chronicle . . . Those of us made happy by bibliographies will come away satisfied, and those of us who want to be cradled in the arms of a trustworthy author will have no complaints either. This publication does not allow its reviewers to assign stars; if it did, this book would get the maximum allotment.”Vermont History

“A substantial number of river and river-basin ‘biographies’ have been published over the years, including a number specifically relevant to Vermont . . . But none is as erudite, informative, and gracefully written as this one. The author’s contribution is clearly in the tradition of Claudio Magris’s 1989 river basic classic, Danube. To stress once again, what the author captures so magnificently is the complexity and importance of the inescapable interactions between human actions and the natural world—an achievement that suggests to me that this book should be read, enjoyed, and digested by college students and other scholars of ecology, geography, and environmental conservation far beyond the borders of Vermont and New England.”Northern Woodlands

"[Fish] succeeds in helping us to see the Vermont landscape both more clearly and more accurately. By doing so, we also become aware of how our own behavior affects the landscape. It is easy to think that landscape is just a backdrop for human exploitation. Reading In the Land of the Wild Onion, however, teaches us just how much thinking that way has allowed us to degrade our environment, and how changing our thinking, changing our behavior, using our scientific knowledge and our human compassion for nature, we can
heal the landscape, and ourselves."—Brattleboro Reformer (VT)


In the land of the Wild Onion Charles Fish does for rivers what his earlier In Good Hands did for the family farm: blend personal experience, Yankee thoroughness and a magnificent talent for understanding human enterprise to produce a wholeness that feeds the mind and sooths the heart. Charles Fish is for Vermont what E.B. White was for Maine and Wendell Berry is for Kentucky — a superb regional writer with a universal message.”—Frank Bryan, John G. McCullough Professor of Political Science, The
University of Vermont

“Charles Fish’s new book, In the Land of the Wild Onion: Travels Along Vermont’s Winooski River, tells the wonderful story of one of rural New England’s most interesting and least-known watersheds. Part travel book, part natural and human history, this splendidly-written biography of a river reminds me of Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. No one who loves what’s left of contemporary America’s unspoiled countryside will regret travelling down the ‘Onion River’ with this engaging and informative writer."—Howard Frank Mosher, author of Waiting for Teddy Williams

Author Photo

CHARLES FISH, a native Vermonter and retired professor of English, lives in Dummerston, Vermont, with his wife Eleanor. This is his third book.

Thu, 6 Feb 2014 08:42:03 -0500