River Life: The Natural and Cultural History of a Northern River


ISBN: 0-9656763-3-1
Author: John Bates
Illustrations: Terry Daulton
Softcover, 7 x 10 inches, 376 pages, with over 100 maps, tables and illustrations
Manitowish River Press, 2001


Rivers are sacred places that resonate with sounds, smells, sensations, mysteries and beauty. River Life takes you on a guided exploration of the Manitowish River, a small river in northern Wisconsin. Packed with information, River Life examines current ecological studies, probes fur trader journals and archaeological surveys, and explores the author's personal observations to vividly describe the life of a northern river.

Richly designed with 125 illustrations, diagrams, maps and tables, River Life introduces the science of stream ecology and brings it into the language and vision of the layperson. Canoeists, kayakers, birders, plant enthusiasts and all nature lovers will find this book thoroughly pleasurable and educational.


An excellent resource for presenting example of natural history and ecology or for highlighting the biodiversity of northern temperate rivers . . . Bates leads the way with tantalizing stories.
--Choice, Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

River Life is enthusiastically recommended for students of natural history and river-based ecological systems, and would serve as an ideal template for similar historical and environmental accounts of other small to medium rivers throughout the United States.
--Midwest Book Review

Bates' storytelling is, at the same time, so compete and enrapturing and his understanding of aquatic biology is so sophisticated that the book should be incorporated into environmental studies and high school curriculums throughout the state.
--River Alliance of Wisconsin

River Life is a veritable textbook for those interested in the ecology and, in some cases, the politics of rivers in general, and the history of the Manitowish River in particular. This is not a quick read, and the story, like a river, meanders back and forth . . . Bates mixes history and biology with impressive aptitude. Each chapter, each page, is a story unto itself, and when you finally reach the end, you are left with an understanding of the broad sweep of time and distance through which the Manitowish River, and the land around it, has come.
--Ted Gostomski, Executive Director, North American Loon Fund

A thousand thanks for a copy of your handsome River Life. . . It's an honorable piece of work . . . a treat to read.
--Ann Zwinger, author of Run, River, Run and many other books.

Of the many books that have been written about American rivers, most are quite forgettable, but occasionally one comes along that is outstanding . . . Now when the subject of outstanding river-books comes up, you can add another to the relatively short list--River Life: The Natural and Cultural History of a Northern River. A fascinating exploration of the ecological, cultural, hydrological, and geomorphological processes of the Manitowish River in layperson's language, River Life aims to provide the basis for understanding not only the Manitowish but also the life of other northern rivers. Packed with information, River Life is written in a wonderfully conversational and lively style that makes it easy and fun to read . . . Bates uses his trip down the river as a framework for engrossing observations on the life of the Northwoods--past, present, and future. . . . Reading the book, which indeed flows like a river, is comparable to paddling down the Manitowish in John's company--and what could be better than that?
--Mike Svob, author of Paddling Northern Wisconsin; Paddling Southern Wisconsin; and Paddling Illinois