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Book details
  • Genre:TRAVEL
  • SubGenre:United States / Midwest / West North Central
  • Language:English
  • Pages:344
  • Paperback ISBN:9798350913637

Voices on the River

22 Days on the Delta Queen

by Dennis Brown

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Come along on a vacation unlike any you have ever taken -- as a big red paddlewheel propels you along the currents of history, romance, and memory on the grandest steamboat ever to cruise America's inland rivers, the magnificent Delta Queen. Voices on the River recounts a nostalgic three-week journey on this legendary boat through the heartland of America. Your travel companions will include everyone from folk heroes like Mark Twain and Roy Rogers to Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter. One of the many joys of steamboating is that travelers never know what unexpected delight lies in wait around the next bend. So too, in Voices on the River, the reader never knows what happy surprise awaits on the next page. Welcome aboard the Delta Queen, for the trip of a lifetime!

In October 1986, author Dennis Brown -- after having spent seven years as a publicist at CBS Entertainment in New York City -- returned to mid-America to travel on the iconic Delta Queen steamboat. His account of three weeks of leisurely cruising on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers -- first, east from St. Louis to Pittsburgh; then south to New Orleans -- is an evocative time capsule that carries the reader back to a nostalgic world when, as Grammy Award winner John Hartford affirms, steamboating was "the only sane way to travel." An array of voices -- past and present, imagined and real -- joins Brown on the Delta Queen: people like General Ulysses S. Grant, who traversed these same watery routes during the American Civil War; Abraham Lincoln, whose young character was shaped on both rivers, and film star Gregory Peck, who portrayed Lincoln in a television mini-series about the Civil War. Then there is Mark Twain, whose spectral presence is so prominent throughout Voices, it's almost as if the celebrated humorist is a fellow passenger aboard the DQ. One of the many joys of steamboating is that travelers never know what unexpected delight lies in wait around the next bend. So too, in Voices on the River, the reader never knows what happy surprise awaits on the next page: perhaps a chance meeting with John Wayne or an unexpected appearance by Roy Rogers. Here, an account of Jimmy Carter's presidential cruise down the Upper Mississippi from St. Paul to St. Louis; now, the recollections from a survivor of the air attack on Pearl Harbor. On one page, you will find yourself stranded in Shawneetown, Illinois, with Helen Hayes, first lady of the American theater; on another, James Garner exults in the thrill of driving the pace car at the Indy 500. Voices on the River also affords the reader a rare opportunity to make the charming acquaintance of the wry and sprightly Captain Fred Way, the first riverman since Mark Twain to become a prominent author. Way, who in 1947 organized the daring ocean trek that brought the former Sacramento River ferry to her new home in Cincinnati, is ideally suited to recount the storied sage of the Delta Queen. Part river chronicle, part popular history, part personal memoir -- there has never been a book quite like Voices on the River. By the time Brown concludes his journey in New Orleans, chances are that you too will fall in love with steamboating -- and envy those who were privileged to view America from the decks of the Delta Queen.

About the author
Dennis Brown's book, Actors Talk: Profiles and Stories from the Acting Trade, which came out in 2000, was praised by Playbill magazine as "one of the finest interview collections ever published." A companion volume, Shoptalk: Conversations about Theater and Film with Twelve Writers, One Producer -- and Tennessee Williams' Mother, was published in 1992. Brown also wrote the screenplay for The Perfect Tribute. The award-winning television movie, which starred Jason Robards as Abraham Lincoln, was broadcast on ABC in 1991 and again in 1992. Brown directed William Atherton, Conchata Ferrell, Mary Beth Hurt, and Lane Smith in his stage adaptation of William Inge's novel, My Son is a Splendid Driver, at the William Inge Festival in Independence, Kansas. He assisted Gregory Peck in developing his one-man show, A Conversation with Gregory Peck. From 1995-1998, they toured together to 52 engagements throughout the United States and Canada. Brown spent a decade as a publicist at CBS Entertainment -- seven years in New York, three years in Los Angeles. His many projects included serving as Angela Lansbury's publicist for Murder, She Wrote. He currently resides in Saint Louis, where he spent 15 years teaching film classes at Webster University and 12 years as a theater reviewer at The Riverfront Times newspaper.

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