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Mississippi Freese

Mississippi River: Headwaters and Heartland to Delta and Gulf
by David Freese
with essay by Simon Winchester and a foreword by Sarah Kennel

Winner of the 2021Gold IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) for Best Book of the Year in the Coffee Table Book category.

A major new book that shows why the Mississippi remains America's most important and iconic river!

America's most important and iconic river has had many names: from the Ojibwe word misiziibi, meaning "a great river spread wide over the land," to the more familiar Mighty Mississippi, Old Blue, and Ole Man River. In Mississippi River: Headwaters and Heartland to Delta and Gulf, the third book of David Freese's trilogy on North American waters, the photographer takes us on a captivating visual journey from the river's source at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota 2,552 miles south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Freese's photographs—from the ground and from the air—open our eyes to encompass the river's diversity and complexity as seen from its cities, towns, and hamlets, its industrial sites and farmland, its historic buildings and sanctuaries for wildlife, all the while revealing the constant flow of goods, grain, and fuel up and down the nation's major shipping artery. The photographs also illustrate the ongoing dangers posed by increased flooding and the protective measures historically taken by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in trying to fulfil an impossible task: of keeping a restless and often swollen and unruly river in check.

There is great pressure on America's biggest river in the way we manage and treat it, and we can be thankful for the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries and the passage of environmental legislation that enhances the quality of our waters, air, and soils. But too often there are negative environmental consequences to our way of life, ranging from (ironically) the loss of habitat affecting millions of birds and other wildlife to poisonous runoff from pesticides and herbicides on agricultural fields. As one encounters the river, one must also remember that, throughout its vast watershed, the Mississippi was initially the great river for native peoples who were systematically removed from their homelands; and, as Freese journeys downriver, one is also reminded of the dark legacy of slavery, especially in the South.

The Misiziibi reveals America's complicated past and present and hints at its future like no other river. American history truly bends and turns in its waters. To complement the photographic journey, acclaimed author Simon Winchester provides one of the most compelling short histories of the Mississippi yet written and Sarah Kennel, Curator of Photography at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, places Freese's images into the canon of landscape photography as a magnificent body of work that documents, critiques, honors, and sanctifies America's most treasured river. David Freese concludes his remarkable book with a provocative afterword and extensive notes on many of his photographs.


Read a review in Photo Review Newsletter July-Aug 2020

Read an interview with David Freese in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald (pdf 8/2020)



$50.00 U.S. (trade discount) No e-book has been authorized.
Hardcover with PLC
336 pages with 209 toned photographs (printed in 4-color) by the author (including 7 foldouts), 1 historic cyanotype photograph, and 4 color maps
11.875" x 11.5" landscape
ISBN: 978-1-938086-73-1

Published in July 2020

Distributed by Casemate/IPM (U.S. and Canada)
No e-book has been authorized.

Published in association with Aegon Transamerica Foundation and the American Land Publishing Project.

The Trilogy of North American Waters: West Coast, East Coast, and Mississippi River (2020) by David Freese
ISBN: 978–1–938086–76–2 (click here for more details)

David Freese Photography

About the Author and Essayists

Book Events & Exhibitions:
Tuesday, November 29, 2022 at 4:30PM
"Tales of the Landscape and Dire Warnings. A Photographer's Odyssey"
Visiting Lecturer Series at Haverford College, Chase Hall, Ardmore, PA

May 27 to October 7, 2022
David Freese Photographs: The Geography of Climate Change
Atrium Gallery, Jane Lutnick Fine Arts Center, Haverford College, Haverford, PA
Call the gallery for hours at 610-896-1267

Friday, January 29, 2021 from 2-3pm (PST)
Online Artist Talk: David Freese, My Photography Book Odyssey
Zoom online event (register here)

Friday, September 18, 2020 from 4 to 5pm (CST)
Bookish: An Indie Shop for Folks Who Read, Fort Smith, AR
Zoom online event: Contact Sara at

Friday, October 2, 2020 from 5 to 6pm (CST)
Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, LA
Online event - Live on Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope

Monday, January 27, 2020 at 10am
Book signing at Casemate's ALA booth

Book Information Sheet (pdf)

Mississippi River Map

(click on image to enlarge)
© 2020 Center for the Study of Place

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