The history of St. Louis and the Mississippi River are intertwined, or at least that's what St. Louisans like to believe. The riverside residents of Iowa and Illinois, Tennessee and Louisiana all believe the same thing. The Mississippi has its own history — we just happen to drift into it here and there, imagining "our" river is the same one that made Mark Twain wax eloquent. Lee Sandlin takes us on a long, lucid journey in his engaging history, Wicked River, delving into the Mississippi's story before Twain, when it still determined its own course and boundaries. Focusing primarily on the years 1800 to 1863, Sandlin recounts the stories of the Crow's Nest pirates, the "fancy girl" prostitutes, the driven missionaries and the early steamer captains who all believed, just like we do, that their stories were the history of the Mississippi rather than the other way around. Sandlin reads from and discusses Wicked River at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books' downtown location (321 North Tenth Street; 314-436-3049 or www.left-bank.com). Admission is free, and copies of the highly recommended Wicked River will be available for sale.
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010