The Great River: The Making & Unmaking of the Mississippi

Two Mississippi Museums | 222 North Street, Jackson, Mississippi, 39201

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Join MDAH on site at the Two Mississippi Museums at noon on Wednesday, July 3, for History Is Lunch or watch the livestream when Boyce Upholt will present “The Great River: The Making and Unmaking of the Mississippi.”
The Mississippi River is central to the United States, both physically and metaphorically. Its watershed spans almost half the country. Mark Twain’s travels on the river inspired the America’s first national literature. Blues and jazz were born in its floodplains and carried upstream.
In his new book “The Great River: The Making and Unmaking of the Mississippi,” Upholt tells the epic story of the wild and unruly river and the centuries of efforts to control it. For thousands of years the Mississippi watershed was home to millions of Indigenous people who regarded “the great river” with awe and respect and depended on its regular flooding. But the expanse of its watershed and the rich soils of its floodplain made Europeans view the river as a foe to conquer.
“Centuries of human attempts to own, contain, and rework the Mississippi River, from Thomas Jefferson’s expansionist land hunger through today’s era of environmental concern, have transformed its landscape,” said Upholt. “And those government-built levees, jetties, dikes, and dams have not only damaged ecosystems—they may not work much longer.”
John M. Barry, author of “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America,” wrote that “’The Great River’ is easily one of the best books ever written about the Mississippi. It brings depth of scholarship to everything from geology to history to current politics, all of it elegantly written.”
Connecticut native Boyce Upholt moved to Mississippi in 2009 to work with Teach for America. He earned his BA in English from Haverford College and his MFA from Warren Wilson College. Upholt is the winner of a James Beard Award for investigative journalism, and his writing has appeared in The Atlantic, National Geographic, Oxford American, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among other publications. “The Great River: The Making and Unmaking of the Mississippi” is his first book. Copies of “The Great River: The Making and Unmaking of the Mississippi” will be for sale at the program.
History Is Lunch is a weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History that explores all aspects of the state’s past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.
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