From Long Island Sound to Fourth Lake, the Connecticut River's source near the New Hampshire-Quebec border, by tugboat (as far as Hartford), canoe, and occasionally car or bicycle: a graceful, unassuming, vastly knowledgeable account that has everything going for it except articulate passion, philosophical or otherwise. Bachman has lived in the Connecticut River Valley most of his life, and he has a splendid native feel for the landscapes, the grizzly mill towns (Holyoke), the once-throbbing arteries of commerce (White River Junction, VT.) now reduced to a cluster of motels and gas stations, the bridges (79 or so), dams, and everything else about the river--its history, geography, hydrology, fish, wildlife, and the humans, Indians, Yankees, and others, who have caught its salmon and shad, floated logs down it, farmed, worked (hydro-power plants, etc.) and lived by it. Whether he's talking about plate tectonics or the great flood of '27, the art of poling a canoe up through rapids or the new 12,000 horsepower GP40-2 locomotives, Bachman is always worth listening to, and he never flaunts his expertise. But he's hobbled, for one thing, by his refusal, or disinclination, or inability, to reveal much of his private self (in one lame departure from his cool, quietly paced narrative, he notes, ""This valley--this ancient green valley--was so pretty it was sad""). On the other hand, amidst the endless flow of facts and details, he paints a vivid picture of the river as a force that antedates and will survive all human efforts to use, control, and reshape it. Less involving than it might have been, but a sharp-eyed, wide-ranging testimony to a rich regional piety.