Jessica DuLong's latest book, DUST TO DELIVERANCE: Untold Stories from the Maritime Evacuation on September 11 (McGraw-Hill, 2017) is the culmination of nearly a decade of reporting about the largest boat lift in history, larger even than the evacuation of Dunkirk.
This groundbreaking, minute-by-minute chronicle of the September 11th boat lift—when ferries, dinner boats, and other vessels spontaneously converged to rescue nearly 500,000 stranded people from Manhattan—provides an unprecedented look at one of the most significant moments in American history.
This human saga of compassion, triumph, and resilience reveals how tragedy creates new, often unlikely, alliances, even as it strengthens existing bonds. The book brings to light the resourcefulness and resounding human goodness that rise up in response to darkness, calamity, and turmoil.
In response to this book and DuLong's previous work, Mark Kramer, Founding Director, Nieman Foundation Program on Narrative Journalism, Harvard University, has called DuLong "one of the best of the new generation of narrative journalists."
She also works as a ghostwriter and book doctor on a diversity of nonfiction projects including memoir, psychology and neuroscience, philosophy and investing, and parenting. She coaches writers and teaches creative nonfiction with The Sackett Street Writers Workshop.
After more than a decade as a freelance journalist, DuLong published her first book, MY RIVER CHRONICLES: Rediscovering the Work that Built America, which was released by Free Press in hardcover in September 2009, and in paperback in June 2010.
Winner of the 2010 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award for memoir, the book was lauded as "elegantly written" by Gay Talese. "Jessica DuLong's My River Chronicles brings the past of the Hudson River into the vivid present," wrote Talese, "and carries forward the craft of literary non-fiction with grace and energy."
When DuLong was laid off from her dot-com job, her life took an unexpected turn. A volunteer day aboard an antique fireboat, the John J. Harvey, led to a job in the engine room, where she found a taste of home she hadn't realized she was missing. Working with the boat's finely crafted machinery, on the waters of the storied Hudson, made her wonder what America is losing in our shift away from respecting hands-on work. Her questions crystallized after she and her crew served at Ground Zero, where fireboats provided the only water available to fight blazes.
Vivid and immediate, MY RIVER CHRONICLES is a journey with an extraordinary guide—a mechanic's daughter and Stanford graduate who bridges blue-collar and white-collar worlds, turning a phrase as deftly as she does a wrench. As she searches for the meaning of work in America, DuLong, one of the world's only female fireboat engineers, shares her own experiences of learning to navigate a traditionally male world, masterfully interweaving unforgettable present-day characters with four centuries of Hudson River history.
A celebration of craftsmanship, MY RIVER CHRONICLES is a deeply personal story of a unique woman's discovery of her own roots—and America's—that raises important questions about our nation's future.
A U.S. Coast Guard-licensed merchant marine engineer, DuLong runs the five 600-horsepower opposed-piston diesel engines of retired New York City fireboat John J. Harvey, the 1931 vessel now operating as a living museum, giving free public trips around New York Harbor and taking an annual whistle-stop tour up the Hudson River.
DuLong and the rest of the crew were recognized in the Congressional Record for valor in aiding FDNY's rescue efforts in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and appear as characters in Maira Kalman's award-winning children's book FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey and Ben Gibberd's New York Waters: Profiles from the Edge. When she's not on the fireboat, DuLong can sometimes be spotted at the helm of a grey, 65-foot former army tug.
Over the course of her journalism career, DuLong has gone undercover to a white-power hate-rock festival in rural Georgia for Newsweek International, covered college finances for Rolling Stone, written about lesbian newlyweds for CosmoGIRL! (in an article nominated for a GLAAD Media Award), penned a history of engine room technology for Maritime Reporter and Engineering News, and chronicled the undoingof a paper-mill machinery factory for Today's Machining World, among other varied assignments. Her work has also appeared in Psychology Today, Parenting, Newsday, The Advocate, Out, Alternative Medicine, Saudi Aramco World, and the New York Times Regional Newspapers, among other publications.
Her boating and writing worlds first collided with the publication in the anthology Steady As She Goes: Women's Adventures At Sea (Seal Press, 2003) of her essay "Below Decks"—a piece singled out by Publishers Weekly as "stylish" and a "high point" of the collection.
She has edited a variety of projects for nonprofit and arts organizations, including A Celebrat10n of Pop-Up and Movable Books, a handmade, limited-edition, commemorative pop-up book.
Previously, as director of content and site development for AtBalance Solutions and managing editor at SavvyHealth.com, DuLong produced an online catalog of health articles and multi-media packages, including digital video and interactive tools. In 1997, she co-founded masque, a boutique queer arts and literature magazine that was awarded Vice Versa's Best New Publication 1998.
After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, DuLong earned a degree in psychology from Stanford University. She served on the board of directors of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association from 1999 to 2004, and was a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. DuLong is also a DONA-certified postpartum doula.