E-Mail: peterlourie@gmavt.net

Rio Grande
From the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico

By Peter Lourie

      The Spanish called it the Rio Grande, the "Great River." After the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers, the Rio Grande is the third longest river in the United States. In its 1,885-mile course to the sea and in the history that has unfolded on its banks, it is also one of North America's most dramatic rivers.

      Peter Lourie explores the Rio Grande to discover what makes the "Great River" great. He follows it from its headwaters in Colorado's snow-capped Rockies to the Gulf of Mexico's sub-tropical shores. His journey takes him into the territories of Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa. he visits an ancient Pueblo where he witnesses an annual feast day and corn dance. When the river becomes a 1,000-mile border between Mexico and the United States, he accompanies the U.S. Border Patrol, then takes a whitewater rafting trip through desert canyons of Big Bend National Park. Finally, the author's journey ends with a dive into the warm waters of the Gulf.

      Here is the Rio Grande of history and legend, vividly brought to life through a lively and informative text, illustrated with full-color and archival photographs.


      "The Rio Grande flows almost 2,000 miles from the Continental Divide in Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico below Brownsville, TX. During the course of its journey, the river is mighty and meek, life enriching and life altering, but always alluring and important to the people who live along its path. Lourie's first-person travelogue successfully brings this body of water to life and provides readers with a sense of its history and the places that it passes through. The author also relates his feelings of excitement and adventure as he traveled downriver. Historical photographs and reproductions of Billy the Kid, General Santa Anna, Pancho Villa, and others supplement Lourie's bright, sharp full-color photographs; a map highlights the towns he visited during the trip. Through this photo-essay, armchair travelers can share the joy of following "...a river from its source to its mouth" while picking up bits of history, archaeology, culture, and political and environmental concern."

School Library Journal , June 1999
Jeanette Larson, Texas State Library, Austin

      "Continuing his riverine travels, the author of Amazon (1991), Yukon River (1992), etc., reports on his 1,900 mile journey down the Rio Grande, from its headwaters near a former silver town in Colorado to its inconspicuous outlet into the Gulf. In dramatic prose ("Heading for Santa Elena Canyon, we went twirling down the river under the brutal summer sun . . ."), he not only describes the passing scenery but also evokes some of its colorful history with tales of Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa, takes side trips to view ancient petroglyphs and pueblos, travels briefly with a member of the U.S. Border Patrol (but elsewhere passes freely between the U.S. and Mexico), meets the single living resident of a Mexican ghost town, and discusses the damage done by overdevelopment on the river's lower reaches. Unusually well-chosen photographs enhance the connections between the river's past and present with a mix of historical shots, new portraits, and landscapes in sharp color, and even a satellite picture. In Lourie, this "shallow, bony" river, our country's third longest, has found an enthusiastic, well-informed partisan."

Booklist , February 15, 1999
John Peters