The book takes the shape of an informative series tales set to the narrative of the author's trip through the Great Lakes on the Malabar, a tall ship out of Traverse City, Michigan.
Jerry Dennis, the author, lays the story out like a regular guy telling you of his travels at the bar.
He gives lessons on the history of man-made features as well as the geological happenings and cycles that shaped the region in everyday language that anyone could understand, and he makes it interesting. You are learning and being entertained at the same time.
Dennis shares tales of Native American beliefs about the area, as well as their stories and practices. He also
Throughout his trip through the lakes Dennis explains the recent and current trends and happenings in each lake. He also explains what certain groups are doing help these awesome ecosystem! He also gives subtle warnings about environmental issues that they are facing without preaching, a feat that is not easily accomplished.
I read this book with a map pulled up at all times on my computer, I loved to find the places that he was talking about, then I would Google the story, or the area that he was describing and get lost researching the topic. While the book reads quite quickly, if you take the time to delve into the side stories and to look up the events that Dennis is writing about you will find yourself taking a little longer than usual. But the extra time is worth it because it will only enrich your experience with this book.
Since reading I have amassed a list of places and events that I would like to check out due to their descriptions in the book:
- The Witching Tree
- The Snow Wasset
- More of Sleeping Bear Dunes
- The Manitou Islands
- The shore of Superior (I think that Chelsea and I are going to kayak up there once we find a suitable truck to carry our gear!)
- and so many more...
This book describes the Great Lakes region with such familiarity that any reader will feel at home, even if you have never been near the Great Lakes. He does this through anecdotal additions which add to the familiarity of the tone.
One of my favorite examples of this is when he is describing the fateful night of the Edmund Fitzgerald's sinking. In his description he mentions the Arthur M. Anderson, the boat where my Great Grandfather was a crew member. This really added a personal connection to the book. I also enjoyed the references to the places that I have played since my youth, Manistee, Arcadia, Traverse City, Mackinac, and Leelanau.
Guests to the area, I suggest you read this on your trip or before, it will provide you with a wealth of information and history of the area, and if you read it before you get here it may even whet your appetite to check something out that would not otherwise be found!
Residents of the area, I suggest you read this book, enjoy it thoroughly, research the stories and examples within, you will discover things about your town/ area that you would never have found before.
Pick this book up as soon as you can, get it read before the summer and then start exploring!