I was drawn to this book about the River Danube as I have travelled part of the river myself! Sure enough the book explores Regensburg in Germany along with the monastery (and brewery) of Weltenberg upriver from that city, where the author's description missed out on the adorable little cats that I remember running round the beer garden from my visit! So from Weltenberg through Regensburg and the hilltop Parthenon downstream from the city and all the way to Vienna was familiar territory to me and I enjoyed the opportunity to see the area through someone else's eyes. I enjoyed equally the chance to explore, in a literary sense, the parts of the river I've never visited, particularly as it passes through Serbia and Romania to the famous Danube Delta, which seems, from this book, not to be quite the ecological wonderland it has always been in my mind.
I found the mixture of travel and history to be fascinating, this is a river that passes through some of the most changeable and turbulent areas of Europe, where borders have changed several times. The aftermath of these changes are still felt and explored well here too, though I did feel sometimes that the author's obsession with the old aristocracy a little overdone, important though they are to the overall history of the river.
This is not primarily an environmental book though occasionally it touches on some of the ecology of the river, sometimes as an aside: 'I could see no storks, only a Tesco's plastic bag rising steadily on an upward draft of hot air' and sometimes at greater length including a discussion on how the canalisation of the Danube has 'caused the loss of 80% of the original floodplain along with species like the moor frog and the black poplar.'
Overall this is a book well worth reading if you're interested in the history of Europe and the continent's major river.
Blue River, Black Sea by Andrew Eames, published by Transworld Publishers.