THE MEADOWLANDS by Robert Sullivan

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Travel just five miles outside of New York City, venture off the crowded New Jersey Turnpike. and you will be surrounded by the Meadowlands, a much vilified but still untamed thirty-two-square-mile swamp that is home to rare birds and missing bodies, shiny corporate headquarters and the remnants of ancient cedar forests, tranquil marshes and burning garbage dumps. Robert Sullivan is this weird and wild place's unofficial naturalist, archeologist, and explorer, and here he reports back from the field. Revealing what he has found while traversing one of America's first -- and most fascinating -- frontiers.

A 1978 Federal Report described the Meadowlands as "a swampy mosquito-infested jungle...where rusting auto bodies, demolition rubble, industrial oil sticks and cattails merge in unholy, stinking union." But one man's trash is another man's treasure, and with incomparable wit and enthusiasm, Robert Sullivan reinterprets the reputation and legacy of an area considered by many to be one of the most disgusting in the country. He travels by canoe, bus, car, and foot to tour cities and swamplands and interview mayors, dump owners, and renegade mosquito-control officers. He describes the hideous pollution and the hidden natural wonders, the seedy motels and labyrinth highways, the local population and the indigenous, ubiquitous mosquitoes. The Meadowlands, he explains, is "a place that the forces of progress have perennially targeted but have never managed to completely control, a place that people rush past on their way to the rest of America." But Sullivan learns that, in fact, many things have been left behind here -- from garbage and treasure to the remains of crazy development schemes of generations past. Armed with pickax, shovel, and metal detector, he bravely sets out to find the two things believed to be dumped in the Meadowlands that particularly obsess him -- the elusive corpse of famed labor leader Jimmy Hoffa and Manhattan's once-glorious original Penn Station.

In the tradition of John McPhee and Ian Frazier, Robert Sullivan transforms the seemingly ordinary into the extraordinary with his sparkling literary style and superb sense of irony. Filled with eccentric characters and unforgettable stories, The Meadowlands is an ode to an overlooked American borderland -- a delightfully incongruous battleground marking the ongoing struggle between the forces of progress and nature.


About Robert Sullivan

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Robert Sullivan has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Rolling Stone, Outside, Condé Nast Traveler, and Vogue, where he is a contributing editor. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two children.
Published January 1, 1998 by Scribner. 224 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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And Sullivan has an appealing taste for the absurd and ridiculous, the kind of material that gives places warp and weft: He floats his canoe over the submerged remains of a radio station ``thought to be the first to ever broadcast the voice of Frank Sinatra,'' finds the world's largest collection...


Publishers Weekly

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Just five short, swampy miles from Manhattan, the New Jersey Meadowlands are awash in refuse of all sorts, from toxic waste and landfill to tangled heaps of abortive real-estate development--and perhaps even Jimmy Hoffa's remains.


AV Club

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The New Jersey Meadowlands consist of thirty-odd square miles of swamp and muck situated just a couple of miles from Manhattan.

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of THE MEADOWLANDS: WILDERNESS A...

North Jersey

Doyne finds: “Without knowing what the final, approved proposal will be, the court cannot decide whether it will cause adverse effects to [the teams], thus triggering their right under the Cooperation Agreement [of 2006] to consent to it… There is no way to know what proposal – if any – will be a...

Aug 10 2012 | Read Full Review of THE MEADOWLANDS: WILDERNESS A...

North Jersey

In 2009, Dan Silna – former president of the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey – told The Record of the undisclosed losses: “This is an act of financial terrorism.” So these rich men got richer from the ABA deal, poorer from Madoff, and maybe more riches from new revenue streams.

Sep 08 2012 | Read Full Review of THE MEADOWLANDS: WILDERNESS A...

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