What a grand book this is! In documenting the history of the conquest of the lower Colorado River and the Grand Canyon by boat, Lavender paints a series of unforgettable portraits of the men and women who lived for running the river--and sometimes died there. From a one-armed self-aggrandizing Civil War veteran named Major John Wesley Powell, who first ran the river in the late 1800s, to a plucky woman named Georgie White, who organized river tours in the 1950s, we come to admire and understand these people, who for reasons as varied as their backgrounds, love the roaring river in all its dangerous glory. The book moves along as swiftly as a boat in white water and Lavender maneuvers skillfully through a dangerously thick rift of diaries and other primary sources that would have swamped a lesser writer. The final result carries the reader on a thrilling historical trip through the Grand Canyon without drowning him or her in a torrent of facts. Lavender is as good a storyteller as he is a historian, and the primary sources he has panned in have rendered up rich nuggets that add immeasurably to the energy, romance and validity of the tale without stealing any of its natural down-river momentum. In sum, a perfect blending of information and exhilaration.