Devil’s Den to Lickingwater


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315 pp, 8 x 9.75 in., 47 maps, 29 full-color illustrations

Devil’s Den to Lickingwater tells the multifaceted tale of the Mill River in Western Massachusetts, from its emergence after the glaciers 20,000 years ago to the present. This is in fact the story of New England, and indeed much of America, as told by environmental historian John Sinton (co-author of Water, Earth and Fire: The New Jersey Pine Barrens and The Connecticut River Boating Guide). Little escapes Sinton’s voracious historical appetite – the creation of the landscape, the disappearance and reappearance of native fish and animals, the Mill River as a Native American crossroads, the contrast between English and Native ways of managing the land, the transformations wrought by war, floods and industrial disasters, the extraordinary role of the Mill River in the U.S. Industrial Revolution, the exceptional personalities, from Sachem Umanchala to Calvin Coolidge. All this is told through the arc of the Mill River’s history—beloved, abused, diverted, and ultimately reclaimed as an integral part of the landscape.

“With rich knowledge and clear, evocative language, John Sinton interweaves the natural and engineered history of the Mill River in Western Massachusetts with the complex stories of settlements along its course. Sinton deftly traces the interactions of the river and its flooding waters with the forces that built farms, villages, towns, and cities alongside its banks—forest clearing, agriculture, industrialization, dams, transportation, and politics…Sinton offers a compelling story and an important contribution to the growing literature of the interplay between nature and human action.”

—Helen Horowitz, Parsons Professor Emerita of History and American Studies, Smith College, author of Traces of J.B. Jackson coming in 2019

“John Sinton has given us a masterpiece that is at once environmental history, local history, and a microcosm of New England, American, and global history. It interweaves the latest findings on all manner of scholarly topics with countless anecdotes of human beings, both inventive and foolish. Especially notable for incorporating Native Americans’ presence and perspectives. Beautifully written and illustrated.”

—Neal Salisbury, Professor Emeritus in History, Smith College, author of Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England

Weight 2.1 lbs
Dimensions 10 × 8 × 1 in
Levellers Press