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University of Iowa News Release


March 24, 2009

New UI Press book advocates the methodology of 'Deep Travel'

"Deep Travel: In Thoreau's Wake on the Concord and Merrimack" by David K. Leff, the author of "The Last Undiscovered Place," will become available Wednesday, April 1, from the American Life and Land Series of the University of Iowa Press.

The book will be available at bookstores or directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

In the hot summer of 2004, Leff floated away from the routine of daily life just as Henry David Thoreau and his brother had done in their own small boat in 1839. Fortified with Thoreau's observations as revealed in "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers," Leff brought his own concept of mindful deep travel to these same New England waterways. His first-person narrative uses his ecological way of looking, of going deep rather than far, to show that our outward journeys are inseparable from our inward ones.

Leff chose as his companions his neighbor and friend Alan, a veteran city planner; his son Josh, an energetic 11-year-old; and his sweetheart Pamela, a professional caregiver. They added their perspectives to Leff's own experiences as a government official in natural resources policy.

The "deep travel" he describes involves a heightened awareness that results from immersing fully in places and realizing that they exist in time as well as space. Its mindfulness enriches the experience and makes the voyager worthy of the journey. What emerges is a methodology for exploration that could enrich the trips of others.

Ian Marshall, the author of "Peak Experiences: Walking Meditations on Literature, Nature, and Need," wrote, "'Deep Travel' carries the reader along on a strong current of narrative, and offers ample time to look over the gunwales and join the gliding waters in reflection. Leff follows Thoreau's paddle-strokes not only by traveling the same rivers, but by creating a 'fusion of inward and outward experience,' incorporating essay-like musing about time and place -- and the power of both stories and history to evoke them. 'Deep Travel' is a primer on the art of 'sight-seeking' and 'forensic observation,' and Leff offers penetrating readings of the river, the vernacular landscape, and Thoreau."

Leff retired in 2006 as deputy commissioner, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, where he was responsible for conservation programs involving parks, forests, fisheries, and wildlife. He is currently a newspaper columnist and essayist. He has also published a book of poems, "The Price of Water."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Thomas, UI Press,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,