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New Book Explores the Wild Beauty of the Mississippi River Batture

Tulane, LA – WEBWIRE

The Mississippi River winds past the City of New Orleans between tall levees and a rim of land and trees. This rim is called the “batture,” where the water beats against the land, and for this fact alone has remained undeveloped, unmanaged, and wild. Here we find an eclectic community of vagabonds, dog walkers, rabbit hunters, catfish wrestlers, sunset watchers, teenage lovers, grownups dodging alimony, and unnamed artists who leave their paintings on the sides of rusty barges …most of them on the short end of life, and all of them drawn to the freedom, privacy, and beauty of the scene.

Oliver Houck, has frequented the batture for the past 40 years, often with his adopted dog Ms. Bear, and brings his firsthand knowledge of the area to life. He delves into the long history of the region, from plantation life to chemical refineries, from land grabs to keelboat brawlers, from supertankers to riverfront expressways, the first boxing championship on American soil, and a slave rebellion that left severed heads on poles. He also offers an informed look at the current state of this environment, and the fragility of its future.

At its heart, “Down on the Batture” celebrates the beauty, culture, and wildness of this special place, and by extension, all wild and undeveloped places. It gives readers an intimate look at a vibrant, diverse, and often overlooked piece of Americana that deserves to be preserved and celebrated.

His writing is vivid and engaging, making readers feel as if they on the river themselves, spending a day on the raft with Mark Twain’s Huck Fin and Jim. He captures the spirit of the place with a poet’s passion for language and a naturalist’s delight in wild places. This is a book that will educate, entertain, and inspire, and bodes to be a treasured addition to anyone’s library.

Mr. Houck is Emeritus Professor of law and David Boies Chair in Public Interest Law at Tulane University. He has received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Environmental Section of the American Bar Association and Louisiana’s Conservationist of the Year. He is also the author of “Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases That Changed the World;” “Downstream Toward Home: A Book of Rivers;” “Uijongbu: and A Soldier’s Life in Korea;” and “The Court of General Sessions” (the authors life as a federal prosecutor). His pending books include “Waking up the Dream State” (environmental lawsuits in Louisiana), and “The Most Dangerous Branch” (the United States Supreme Court).

Get your copy at

“Down on the Batture”
Author: Oliver A. Houck
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (19 April 2010)
Language: English
ISBN: 1604734612

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 Mississippi River
 Oliver Houck

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