Since the publication of Shantyboat: A River Way of Life in 1953, Harlan Hubbard achieved a wide reputation as a modern-day Thoreau. Not content simply to advocate a life of simplicity and self-sufficiency, Hubbard and his wife Anna in 1944 built with their own hands a houseboat on the banks of the Ohio near Cincinnati and in 1946 set out on a leisurely, five-year journey down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Shantyboat, Hubbard's recounting of their journey to New Orleans, andPayne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society, his sequel telling of their life in a corner of rural Kentucky after their return, won him a host of readers.
Shantyboat on the Bayous is the middle chapter of the Hubbard saga. It tells of Harlan and Anna's voyage of explorations into the remote reaches of Louisiana. For more than a year after reaching New Orleans, the Hubbards meandered through the lush Cajun country on the Intracoastal Waterway, along Bayou Lafourche, thought the marshes around Avery Island, and finally up the storied Bayou Teche toward the farthest point of navigation.