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The River Knows

The River Knows—How Water and Land Will Shape Our Future | Neil Hamilton | 9781948509442 | 276 trade paper | $24.95 | Summer 2023

A natural sequel to Hamilton’s popular book The Land Remains comes The River Knows which examines our relationship with water by considering its role in our culture, society, and political economy. The history of Iowa has been largely shaped by our rivers—both in geologic and natural terms and in utilitarian ways. Looking to the future our relationship with rivers continues to evolve, making them the focus of controversy, such as protecting water quality, and of hope in efforts to restore them as natural sources for citizens to value and enjoy.

The story of our relation to the water—and the land—is told in part by the Raccoon River—which lends its voice to offer a different perspective for us to consider. The river does know a great deal about our history, motivations, and hopes. It is at the center of many of our most pressing ecological challenges including how we address a changing climate. If we take time to watch and listen, the river can help lead us to a more resilient and rewarding future in our relation to nature and to each other.

Insightful, provocative, and humorous by turns, The River Knows is a thought-provoking discussion of how industrial agriculture, conservative politics, religion, and climate change combine to challenge the legions of citizens looking for hope on the river and in nature.

Neil Hamilton is an emeritus professor of law and the former director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University in Des Moines. He retired from full-time teaching in 2019 after thirty-eight years focusing on agriculture and food law. Raised on his family farm in Adams County, he attended Iowa State University for Forestry and the University of Iowa for Law. Teaching, writing, and consulting work led to travels around the globe and across the state and nation. His advice is sought by Presidential candidates, cabinet secretaries, reporters, and others looking for insight on issues involving farming, rural society, conservation, and land tenure. He has served for decades on a variety of non-profit boards including the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Seed Savers Exchange. He lives with his wife Khanh at Sunstead Farm, a market garden oasis they created on Sugar Creek, near Waukee, just west of Des Moines. His previous book was The Land Remains.

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