In person: Boyce Upholt book launch with John Anfinson


Milkweed Books
1011 S Washington Avenue
Suite 107
Minneapolis, MN 55415
United States


(612) 215-2540

Come join Milkweed Books as we welcome BOYCE UPHOLT to Minneapolis to launch his new book, The Great River: The Making & Unmaking of the Mississippi. He will be joined in conversation by JOHN ANFINSON, the former head of the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area and Friends of the Mississippi board member.



Over thousands of years, the Mississippi watershed was home to millions of Indigenous people who regarded “the great river” with awe and respect, adorning its banks with astonishing spiritual earthworks. But European settlers and American pioneers had a different vision: the river was a foe to conquer. In this landmark work of natural history, BOYCE UPHOLT tells the epic story of human attempts to own and contain the Mississippi River, from Thomas Jefferson’s expansionist land hunger through today’s era of environmental concern. He reveals how an ambitious and sometimes contentious program of engineering—government-built levees, jetties, dikes, and dams—has not only damaged once-vibrant ecosystems, but may not work much longer, and explores how scientists are scrambling to restore what’s been lost. Rich and powerful, The Great River delivers a startling account of what happens when we try to fight against nature instead of acknowledging and embracing its power.



BOYCE UPHOLT is a “nature critic” whose writing probes the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world, especially in the U.S. South. He grew up in the Connecticut suburbs and holds a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He moved to the Mississippi Delta in 2009, where he discovered an unexpected wilderness amid an agricultural empire: the Mississippi River, which for hundreds of miles offers a corridor of islands and sandbars and wetland forests, with no settlement or development. His work has been published in the Atlantic, National Geographic, the Oxford American, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among other publications, and was awarded the 2019 James Beard Award for investigative journalism. His stories have been noted in the Best American Science & Nature and Best American Nonrequired Reading series. Boyce lives in New Orleans.

DR. JOHN ANFINSON has been researching, writing and speaking about the upper Mississippi River for over forty years. He spent the first half of his federal career with the St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as Historian and Cultural Resources Program Manager. He joined the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service, in 2000 and retired as Superintendent in 2021. John is the author of The River We Have Wrought and River of History. John chairs Friends of the Mississippi River board and sits on the Minnesota and National Mississippi River Parkway Commissions and the National Parks Conservation Association’s Midwest Council. John is also a guest speaker on American Cruise Lines boats on the Mississippi River. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Minnesota.