From the Ice Age to the present, an ambitious portrait of the Mississippi and the people along her banks. Quotations from letters, newspapers, and journals provide fascinating glimpses of the past, while McCall's narrative summarizes European exploration, US annexation, the growth of fiver traffic, and engineering advances in bridges and river craft. McCall also touches on natural disasters (an 1811 earthquake might have measured 8.7 on the Richter scale) and engineering feats (an 1837 plan to change the river's course). Since events are reported very briefly, it is unfortunate that full citations are not provided for interested readers; moreover, McCall's style can be awkward as she changes from first to second to third person. Still, an intriguing introduction to political, historical, and economic changes along the river. Glossary (including 17 different boats, e.g., ""bullboat"" and ""mackinaw""); no index.