Book Release: Downstream Toward Home


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While books about canoeing are too often of the “cheated death” drudge variety, “Downstream Toward Home”, Oliver Houck’s just-released chronicle of his paddling life, is much, much more. It’s also, incidentally, full of decades of his own adventures and of cheating death.

Houck is one of handful of America’s finest environmental jurists, a current law professor at Tulane University, and former general counsel of the National Wildlife Federation. His work has inspired a generation of American conservationists.

With a sparkling wit and unstinting curiosity, he’s also a consummate canoeist and outdoorsman. Author of “Taking Back Eden” and “Down On The Batture”, Houck in “Downstream..” celebrates 60 years of paddling trips, nearly three dozen in North America, from the wilds of the Northwest Territories and Middle Fork of the Salmon to the dark, quiet bayous of the South and beyond. “Ollie” Houck is a master storyteller, and his tales are moving, as well as gut-laughing funny, vivid, and occasionally gritty.

From (unintentionally!) running Class 4 rapids backwards and stumbling through blackwater bogs and rattlesnake country to his ruminations about life and the mysteries of nature, it’s a beautiful, evocative, and a compelling joy to read.

Houck’s work touched me personally and provides fuel for our own paddling dreams. “Downstream…” makes us understand the wilderness canoeing spirit and to savor it, to see it as you never have before.

In “Downstream…”, Ollie Houck is a good companion for any journey, and his moments of well-thought wisdom and insights will last longer than any river trip.


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