Recent books about the Hudson, written by either crusading conservationists or hard-working naturalists, somehow never seem to achieve the real character of the New York river which flows through so many contrasting communities. With his clean, companionable, kitchen-table style, Hope rolls downstream with the current and records the many human involvements with the river--from white water races in the pristine Adirondack area to the fishing of two Manhattan welfare recipients casting their line beside an eight-foot sewer pipe. Hope is concerned about pollution, but here only in the context of how it affects individual lives and livelihoods. He visits the International Paper Company in Corinth, tags along after his guide, a Corinth native now a public relations man, admires the magnitude and efficiency of the mill in full clank and roar, and indulges in an amiable give-and-take about the ""necessity"" of dumping wastes in the Hudson. Hope joins Pete Seeger and his cluster of young people as they await the arrival of the conservation sloop Clearwater and, helter-skelter, seem to get all their projects together; he nets shad (a difficult and intricate process) with a working fisherman; joins the crew of a tug-hauling barge into New York Harbor; rides with a glum car pool for whom the Hudson is a grey line beneath bumper-to-bumper bridge traffic; hangs out with some Riverside Park sportsmen. Throughout, Hope's respect for good men and women and their skills--whether it's cleaning a fish or slinging a hawser--and his high spirits, clarify and enliven this successful tribute to the Hudson and its people. One of the best river books around.