A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1997 - Nature - 271 pages
4 Reviews
This is a book about how well-intentioned Americans dammed up the Columbia, "Great River of the West, " fulfilling dreams of cheap electricity and gardens flourishing in the desert. It is also a narrative of exploitation: of Native Americans, of endangered salmon, of nuclear waste, and of a river - once wild - tamed to puddled remains. Harden's story is a journey of rediscovery. His home town, Moses Lake, Washington, once bone dry, could not have existed without gargantuan irrigation schemes. His father, a Depression migrant trained as a welder, helped build dams - including Grand Coulee - and later worked at the secret Hanford plutonium plant. Now he and his neighbors, who had thought of themselves as patriots, stood accused of killing the river. As Blaine Harden traveled the thousand miles of the Columbia - by barge, by car, and sometimes on foot - his own past seemed both foreign and familiar. He met rugged individualists (albeit with government subsidies), fervent environmentalists, and Native Americans reduced to consuming canned salmon. He also encountered a newly ascendant political force whose more subtle agenda was to preserve and conserve for its own pleasure and recreation.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - will5352 - LibraryThing

This book is now 20 years old so I am really late to the party to write a review. I actually came across this book in the footnotes of a much more current book, but I was prompted to read it based ... Read full review

A RIVER LOST: The Life and Death of the Columbia

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Joining the recent stream of books on the Columbia River is this hard-hitting report on the policies that have governed this most engineered of all American rivers. As the son of a worker who helped ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
11
Slackwater
23
Better Off Underwater
44
Machine River
59
The Biggest Thing on Earth
77
The Flood
100
Ditches from Heaven
117
A Noble Way to Use a River
135
Wild and Scenic Atomic River
147
Bom with No Hips
174
The River Game
213
EPILOGUE
239
NOTES
247
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
257
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About the author (1997)

Blaine Harden, an award-winning journalist, is a contributor to The Economist and a former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

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