The Mobile River
John S. Sledge
“A fine, fascinating book. John S. Sledge introduces us to four centuries worth of heroes and rogues on one incredible American river.” —Winston Groom, New York Times–bestselling author of Forrest Gump
The Mobile River presents the first-ever narrative history of this important American watercourse. Inspired by the venerable Rivers of America series, John S. Sledge weaves chronological and thematic elements with personal experiences and more than sixty color and black-and-white images for a rich and rewarding read.
Previous historians have paid copious attention to the other rivers that make up the Mobile’s basin, but the namesake stream along with its majestic delta and beautiful bay have been strangely neglected. In an attempt to redress the imbalance, Sledge launches this book with a first-person river tour by “haul-ass boat.” Along the way he highlights the four diverse personalities of this short stream—upland hardwood forest, upper swamp, lower swamp, and harbor.
In the historical saga that follows, readers learn about colonial forts, international treaties, bloody massacres, and thundering naval battles, as well as what the Mobile River’s inhabitants ate and how they dressed through time. A barge load of colorful characters is introduced, including Native American warriors, French diplomats, British cartographers, Spanish tavern keepers, Creole women, steamboat captains, African slaves, Civil War generals and admirals, Apache prisoners, hydraulic engineers, stevedores, banana importers, Rosie Riveters, and even a few river rats subsisting off the grid—all of them actors in a uniquely American pageant of conflict, struggle, and endless opportunity along a river that gave a city its name.
“Sledge brilliantly explores the myriad ways human history has entwined with the Mobile River.” —Gregory A. Waselkov, author of A Conquering Spirit