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Carter, W(illiam) Hodding 1963(?)-

CARTER, W(illiam) Hodding 1963(?)-

PERSONAL: Born c. 1963 in Greenville, MS; married; children: three daughters. Education: Attended Kenyon College.

ADDRESSES: Home—ME. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Atria Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

CAREER: Freelance writer. Former postmaster of Thurmond, WV. Spent two years in Kenya with the Peace Corps.

WRITINGS:

Westward Whoa: In the Wake of Lewis and Clark, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.

An Illustrated Viking Voyage: Retracing Leif Eriksson's Journey in an Authentic Viking Knarr, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.

A Viking Voyage: In Which an Unlikely Crew of Adventurers Attempts an Epic Journey to the New World, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Stolen Water: Saving the Everglades from Its Friends, Foes, and Florida, Atria (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to Esquire, M, Outside, and other periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS: W. Hodding Carter has written about his adventures in the United States and abroad for magazines such as Esquire, M, and Outside. He has also written several books that examine both his personal exploits and larger historical and environmental themes.

The first of these books is Westward Whoa: In the Wake of Lewis and Clark, which recounts Carter's journey with friend Preston Maybank along the Missouri-to-Oregon trail followed by the nineteenth-century explorers. Traveling by car, motor boat, horse, and foot, they find their own obstacles in pollution, failed technology, insects, accidents, map reading, and weather. Carter's take on these events is humorous and often scatological: he collects animal droppings and comments on the bodily functions of his companion and a gassy horse. The mix amused Entertainment Weekly's Kate Wilson, who said, "It's Animal House on a nature hike, and the only person who won't think it's funny is your mother." A Publishers Weekly critic called it "a wacky journey" that suggests "a delayed adolescence" for the adventurers.

Carter's subsequent attempt to retrace the travels of Viking explorer Leif Eriksson would prove far more difficult and dangerous. Without prior seafaring experience, he decided to recruit a crew, have a fifty-four-foot knarr built, and navigate the arctic waters from Greenland to Canada under sail and oar power. Remarkably, he managed all three, although it took two attempts. The first journey ended with a broken rudder and rescue by the Canadian Coast Guard; the next summer, the crew finally arrived at their destination of L'Anse aux Meadows. All of these experiences are detailed in A Viking Voyage: In Which an Unlikely Crew of Adventurers Attempts an Epic Journey to the New World. A related volume titled An Illustrated Viking Voyage: Retracing Leif Eriksson's Journey in an Authentic Viking Knarr documents the trip in photographs.

Reviewers found Carter's prose account of the trip to be full of humor and interest. In a review for the Rambles Web site, Donna Scanlon deemed A Viking Voyage "engaging, funny, and very personal. No dry ship's log this—Carter pulls out the stops as he recounts the crew's adventures and misadventures." Canadian Geographic contributor Heather Pringle called Carter's chronicle "a wonderful, frightening journey," but added, "As gripping as the book is, [it] could have done with less of Carter's navel-gazing about leadership and with a far bigger whack of Viking history and lore." Natasa Musa commented in Library Journal that the book offers "a true adventure that would intrigue even the most extreme daredevils."

An adopted manatee named Brutus first lured Carter into the Florida Everglades, whose fate he explores in Stolen Water: Saving the Everglades from Its Friends, Foes, and Florida. In a book that considers political and environmental history, Carter travels ninety-nine miles by canoe through a vast network of rivers. He meets the people who affect the area's ecosystem: swamp dwellers, sugar farmers, naturalists, environmentalists, politicians, and developers. Supplemental reading teaches him about the area's history and the controversial federal Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Carter also describes in detail the fascinating animals, insects, and plant life he finds along the way.

More than one reviewer commented on the daunting complexity of issues facing the author. Neil Santaniello wrote in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that, after a dry start, Carter "glides smoothly through" one hundred years of background information on the Everglades. The critic noted, "Carter writes with breezy, story-telling ease, his voice veering from serious to comic as he blunders through tangles of mangroves on dead-end voyages and sizes up the swamp-busting characters of yesteryear." Writing in Booklist, Gilbert Taylor remarked, "With humor leavening the science, Carter well evokes the languid vibrancy of South Florida's natural scenery." A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the author as "a gifted teller of nature tales" and judged that while he was clearly an environmentalist, "he is no simplistic kneejerk reformer blind to the multiplicity of competing factors that make ecological issues so pesky."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, July, 1994, Jon Kartman, review of Westward Whoa: In the Wake of Lewis and Clark, p. 1917; May 15, 2000, Gilbert Taylor, review of A Viking Voyage: In Which an Unlikely Crew of Adventurers Attempts an Epic Journey to the New World, p. 1724; June 1, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Stolen Water: Saving the Everglades from Its Friends, Foes, and Florida, p. 1688.

Canadian Geographic, July, 2000, Heather Pringle, review of A Viking Voyage, p. 69.

Entertainment Weekly, July 22, 1994, Kate Wilson, review of Westward Whoa, p. 47.

Library Journal, April 15, 2000, Natasa Musa, review of A Viking Voyage, p. 115; June 1, 2004, April Brazill, review of Stolen Water, p. 170.

Publishers Weekly, May 30, 1994, review of Westward Whoa, p. 41; May 17, 2004, review of Stolen Water, p. 44.

School Library Journal, April, 2001, Judy McAloon, review of A Viking Voyage, p. 172.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, August 4, 2004, Neil Santaniello, review of Stolen Water.

online

Rambles Web site, http://www.rambles.net/ (November 3, 2004), Donna Scanlon, review of A Viking Voyage.

The Stranger.com, http://www.thestranger.com/ (December 28, 2000), Andy Spletzer, review of An Illustrated Viking Voyage: Retracing Leif Eriksson's Journey in an Authentic Viking Knarr.*

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