Click here to order

"Jay Feldman has produced a fascinating work of social history, meticulously researched, elegantly written and awesomely original in its conception. He finds the convulsions of the natural world reverberating on slavery, war, and Indian resistance, and tells the story with verve and style."

— Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

"[E]ngaging...Journalist and scriptwriter Feldman gives a lucid rundown of the geology of the quakes and skillfully deploys sparse firsthand information to describe the titanic upheavals of earth and water that terrified onlookers....it's a diverting patchwork of events, with colorful characters, that Feldman's well—paced storytelling turns into a vivid historical panorama."

Publishers Weekly

"[M]ore than just an interesting historical account...entertaining, weaving several disparate narratives together in the style of a ticktock thriller...highlighting how terrifying it must have been to the people of the day...Feldman takes his various characters through the chaos deftly."

NY Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)

"[A] strikingly original and wonderfully written book...A fascinating window into early America...Deftly exploring a range of subjects, including seismology, slavery, Westward expansion, geography, and geology, Feldman weaves three remarkable narratives into his engaging account....When the Mississippi Ran Backwards chronicles the tumultuous challenges faced by our young nation in gripping prose that reads like a novel."

History Book Club (Alternate Selection)

"Jay Feldman has crafted a compelling book that sheds light on this much—neglected episode....Besides quake details, to which he dedicates more than 50 pages, Feldman interweaves five stories that exemplify the social and political climate of the turn of the 19th century....Feldman expertly ties these stories together against the backdrop of the intense earthquakes. When the Mississippi Ran Backwards paints a vivid picture of the period between the American Revolution and the War of 1812...."

Charlotte Observer

"In addition to telling the story of the New Madrid earthquakes, Feldman weaves a tapestry of social and political history."

Baltimore Sun

"[An] engaging look at the period...Though Feldman's account of the earthquakes is captivating, it is the stories of people and society in the period that make the book unique....an enjoyable and informative read."

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

"Jay Feldman has written a splendid re—creation of one of the strangest and little known times in early U.S. history—a time when an Indian leader was almost as powerful as the president and everything including the earth itself conspired to make the frontier an even wilder place."

— Jake Page, author of In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000—Year History of American Indians and co—author of The Big One

"Feldman re—creates the frontier world of 1811—12....Synthesizing lives and times, Feldman composes a fluent, coherent narrative that culminates in the War of 1812....[A] fine history on the New Madrid events."


"[A]ttention—grabbing plot lines...a masterpiece of suspense...Feldman's research is exceedingly well done and his care with narrating history is exceptional."

Arkansas Democrat Gazette

"Feldman sees [the New Madrid earthquakes] as symbolic of the social turmoil agitating America....Feldman skillfully presents an exciting narrative based on many primary sources, introducing general readers to frontier life in the 1810s."

Library Journal

"Feldman has created a complex and detailed picture of our history at a particularly difficult, stressful, and pivotal moment in time."

Sacramento News & Review

"[A] fascinating narrative...When the Mississippi Ran Backwards is both a study of nature, in all her incomprehensible power, and the nature of man, and how we respond when our world turns suddenly chaotic."

BookPage (A BookPage Notable Title)

"Jay Feldman skillfully describes the historical context of the New Madrid earthquakes....When the Mississippi Ran Backwards is good storytelling about an often overlooked part of American history."

Nashville Scene

"Feldman writes authoritatively and interestingly...."

St. Louis Post—Dispatch

"[A] portrait of America's bloody, early 19th—century frontier...an engaging piece of mid—American popular history."

Seattle Times

"Employing parallel storytelling on several fronts, he creates a telltale sense of impending doom at several junctures....Feldman turns the tumultuous times into a dandy cliffhanger, stitching seemingly unconnected activities and events into a story that gains cohesiveness as it expands."

Paducah Sun

"Jay Feldman gives a moving history of frontier life..The book reads like a mystery novel..'When the Mississippi Ran Backwards' intertwines some famous and near—famous people with well—known events that make this better than your average history book."

Sunday Oklahoman

"Jay Feldman's account of this incredible and little—known episode is a page—turning historical humdinger."

A Common Reader

"[H]e has a great story to tell."

Louisville Courier—Journal

"[A] thoroughly satisfying new history...Feldman revives fascinating information...'When the Mississippi Ran Backwards' is a compelling read."

Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star

"Feldman weaves his story so deftly that his writing has the action and immediacy of a good novel...."

St. Joseph (Missouri) News—Press

"This is not only a tale of a disaster, but also a tale of a slave's murder, the War of 1812 and a nation coming of age."

Longview (Washington) Daily News

"[A] riveting history of the New Madrid quakes."

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

"Feldman weaves an intricate tale....It's a great story."

Grand Rapids Press

"Jay Feldman's lively style translates well to a unique historical coverage which links many seemingly disparate events to provide a uniform history."

Midwest Book Review

"Feldman is in complete command of his sources, and recounts the various stories in a gripping manner. It's rare for a book of history to be a page—turner, but this one certainly is."

Ahadada Books

"Feldman expertly weaves together scene after scene of intrigue, slavery, murder, suffering, destruction, and reconstruction in vivid and scholarly writing....Feldman provides exemplary prose on integration of human and natural history....Highly recommended."

Choice (American Library Association)

"[A] lucidly written, informative analysis....readable and engaging, a good example of popular history."

The Journal of American History

"This is a must read for anyone interested in history, the Mississippi River, or the largest earthquake North America has ever recorded."

— The Southern Reporter

"Jay Feldman skillfully weaves geological and seismographical information with firsthand memoirs of the disaster...."

— Hastings (Neb.) Public Library web site

"Jay Feldman knows how to weave good stories together....The warp and weft...the mesh of larger forces...with the accomplished and squalid lives...give this book its charm."

— Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"[E]xcellent description of the science underlying the earthquakes....[Feldman] has researched his topics deeply in primary sources. He set out to entertain the reader, a goal he has clearly achieved."

— The Journal of Southern History

"Jay Feldman skillfully unfolds the opening of the west around the New Madrid earthquakes....It's hard to imagine how Feldman could work all the characters and events into a cohesive story, but that's exactly what he did."

— BookPleasures.com

Click here to order

Simon and Schuster's official Web site