Shantyboat: A River Way of Life
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Shantyboat: A River Way of Life

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  56 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 31st 1977 by University Press of Kentucky
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HEADLINE: Here is the real secret to their contentment: They did not have any children!

It is not difficult to understand the appeal of the idea embodied in the book Shantyboat: A River Way of Life. A couple in the prime of life construct their own shantyboat from salvaged materials in 1946. After fitting out the boat and provisioning it, they set themselves adrift on the Ohio River in the vicinity of Cincinnati and float down that river onto the Mississippi and then to New Orleans. They tie up o...more
Aug 08, 2012 Rico rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoyed Kon Tiki, Farley Mowat, Huck Finn, and Thoreau
How come it took me more than four decades to discover this book? Seriously, when people saw that my favorite books were Kon Tiki and Never Cry Wolf and Huck Finn and Henry David T. and a hundred other real-life and fictional adventures, someone should have said, "Okay, stop. Read this."

I feel like anything I could say about Harlan Hubbard has already been said. Yes, he's the real deal, authentic, remarkable, unbowed, all those things. But something I didn't hear said about Shantyboat and Harlan...more
Harlan Hubbard lived the life I wish I could've lived. At age 40 he built a boat of driftwood and set out with his wife to travel the Mississippi River from Ohio to New Orleans. Winters they floated; spring and summer they tied up along the banks, sustaining themselves on whatever they grew, fished, or bartered through his paintings. How cool is that? No permit, no license, no insurance. All you needed was a good idea and the wits to pull it off. Apparently, there was a whole subculture of shant...more
Max Carmichael
Re-reading this little-known treasure, which is one of my central touchstones of ecological and sociological wisdom, I'm reminded of why it's not on high school or college reading lists. If more idealistic young people came across a story like this in their formative years, perhaps fewer of them would continue their formal education with its virtually irrevocable indoctrination into the dominant paradigm and treadmill of individualistic consumer society.

My hope lies with the constructive dropout...more
Bob Peru
anna and harlan hubbard. it's like if thoreau had been married and ventured down the ohio and mississippi rivers.
Hannahhippo vvverst
tells magic spells of an ohio river i have never known and never will, a river i can only dream of after putting this fine book down each night. and not very long ago atall, but seems to be just in time. yes, i have friends who've spent summers as water parades of sorts along the mississippi in junk boats of their own design. but to slink along the ohio at a pace accomodating to actually living of the river and its shores, that is something magic. today these channels are so terribly toxic i don...more
Doug Tattershall
When it seemed all America was headed to the suburbs, a man and his wife took to the land by taking to the water. This is an odyssey as much about staying put as about a journey. The Hubbards lived their traveling life with a goal in mind (reaching New Orleans via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in their homemade boat), but with their eyes set no further than the next bend. The book must have had a profound impact on readers of his age, especially those who still recalled rural homelands left be...more
This is a wonderful book of a fearless, really interesting couple. They are a very educated couple who in the 1940's who happen to love the river, so they build a shantyboat our of scrap wood, move in and float from Cincinnati to New Orleans over several years. He's an excellent writer and the amount of skill it takes to avoid ice flows, tricky currents and barges while drifting are amazing. Their ability to improvise and make friends with people along the way while stopping to raise summer gard...more
Marty Nalley
A fascinating story of a bygone time....I've read this book many times and never tire of the fascinating journey of Harlan and Anna Hubbard. My favorite passage: "The voyage often begins near headwaters, or on one of the river's tributaries. At one place after another the hopeful boatman lays over for a spell, until disillusioned, he lets his craft be caught up again by the river's current, to be carried like the driftwood, farther downstream. At last he beaches out for good somewhere in the sou...more
Being that I'm not terribly interested in American commentary, wilderness narratives, or journal-type writings, this was absolutely not the book for me (I had to read it, though). It felt excruciatingly long with no real plot, very little dialogue, and a scattered cast of barely-described characters--right on par for what is essentially a published journal. If this is your thing, this is a great example of travel narratives from the 50s.
This is a book sent to me by Al Parker about a couple who builds a shantyboat and lives aboard for about 7 years on the Ohio river.
wish it had more about his thoughts and feelings, not just a list of day to day activities.
Todd Kelley
reading as meditation
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