Looking for holiday gifts? Need to build up your reading list for colder weather? We're listing some of our favorite Hudson River history books plus some new releases to tide you over until spring.
All of the following links to go Amazon. Just click on the book image or title to purchase. If you'd like to give the museum some extra support, shop at smile.amazon.com and select the Hudson River Maritime Museum as your charity. We'll get a small percentage of your purchase. Some of these books are also available in our museum store, so stop by to purchase in person! And as always, we have a large selection of rare and out of print maritime books in the store, perfect for browsing.
Hudson River Classics
The Hudson: America's River by Frances F. Dunwell
Fran Dunwell offers up a beautifully illustrated history of the Hudson River with this coffee table book. In particular, Dunwell frames the Hudson River and its importance in New York State and national history.
The Hudson: A History by Tom Lewis
This somewhat scholarly book nevertheless provides an excellent overview of the Hudson River, from First Contact through the twentieth century.
The Hudson: An Illustrated Guide to the Living River by Stephen P. Stanne with Roger G. Panetta, Brian E. Forist, and Maija Liisa Niemisto
The third edition of this classic book will be released in January, 2021, but you can pre-order before the holidays. Containing information about the Hudson's wildlife, flora, and environmental history, The Hudson: An Illustrated Guide to the Living River is essential reading for any Hudson River enthusiast.
The Hudson River Highlands by Frances F. Dunwell
This classic text has kept its relevance. The museum consulted it for our RiverWise journey through the Highlands just this year! With chapters on everything from geology to the American Revolution, Dunwell's book is an engaging and interesting read.
New Publications (2018-2020)
Embattled River: The Hudson and Modern American Environmentalism by David Schuyler (2018, paperback 2020)
Newly out in paperback, Embattled River tells the story of the Hudson River and its role in the formation of the environmental movement in America. The museum consulted this book as part of its Rescuing the River exhibit.
Sadly, David Schuyler passed away suddenly in July, 2020. We are grateful for his work and he will be missed.
In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators by Barbara G. Mensch (2018)
Part coffee table book, part history, Barbara G. Mensch combines decades of her photography with archival images of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Weaving together her personal experience of living in the shadow of the bridge with the lives of John and Emily Roebling, In the Shadow of Genius makes for fascinating reading - and looking.
Hudson River Lighthouses by the Hudson River Maritime Museum (2019)
Written by the Hudson River Maritime Museum, Hudson River Lighthouses chronicles all of the Hudson River's historic lighthouses, from Troy, NY to New York Harbor. Includes information about lost lighthouses and early manned navigational lights.
Also available for purchase in the Hudson River Maritime Museum store. All proceeds benefit HRMM.
The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, a Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation by Rich Cohen (2019)
An engrossing history of the life and times of Albert Hicks, infamously known as the "last pirate of New York," for his prosecution and execution for piracy in 1860. Rich Cohen links Hicks to the rise of gangsterism in New York City in the latter half of the 19th century.
The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War by Jonathan Daniel Wells (2020)
Although gradual manumission was implemented in New York starting in 1799, the story of slavery in the state doesn't end there. In this new book, historian Jonathan Daniel Wells chronicles the New York City officials who sought to circumvent antislavery laws from the 1830s to "the eve of the Civil War" and the small group of dedicated abolitionists who fought to stop them.
Enterprising Waters: The History and Art of New York's Erie Canal by Brad L. Utter (2020)
The companion publication to the New York State Museum exhibition by the same name, Enterprising Waters chronicles the history of the Erie Canal in New York State.
The Hudson Valley: The First 250 Million Years: A Mostly Chronological and Occasionally Personal History by David Levine (2020)
Journalist David Levine covers all 250 million years of Hudson Valley history (or thereabouts) in a series of short historical (and often humorous) essays, on topics from dinosaurs to the present.
The Last Slave Ships: New York and the End of the Middle Passage by John Harris (2020)
Published on November 24, 2020, this brand new history chronicles the role of New York City - particularly lower Manhattan - in the illegal slave trade. Harris outlines how the U.S. government turned a blind eye and even aided enslavers in their efforts, despite the illegality of the importation of enslaved Africans at the time.
Especially for Kids
The Christmas Tugboat: How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York City by George Matteson.
This delightful children's book tells the story of real-life tugboat captain George Matteson and his daughter as they make their way down the Hudson River with the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in tow.
River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River by Hudson Talbott.
This beautifully illustrated children's book chronicles the history of the Hudson River from pre-contact Indigenous history all the way through the exciting 19th century, as told through the dreams of a boy named Hudson.
Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art by Hudson Talbott
In his follow-up to River of Dreams, Talbott chronicles the life of Thomas Cole and his relationship to the Catskills in this beautifully illustrated book about the birth of the Hudson River School of Art.
More to come in 2021!
There are a number of fascinating new history books being published in 2021, so keep your eyes peeled for another post with that list. In the meantime, Happy Holidays and happy reading!
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This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries.
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