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An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World Paperback – June 28, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300140886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300140880
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"'Make no mistake, this book is a major event in the history of angling and ecological analysis. It needs to become the stuff of every angler's conversation and practice. And it's such a pleasure to read!" (Gordon Wickstrom, American Angler) 'With prose as engaging as it is thoughtful, Halverson has crafted an absorbing cautionary tale of ecological trial and error, documenting our tardy but increasing understanding of biological interdependence and its immeasurable value.' (Washington Post)"

About the Author

Anders Halverson is a journalist with a Ph.D. in aquatic ecology from Yale University. He lives in Boulder, CO.

More About the Author

Anders Halverson is an award-winning journalist with a Ph.D. in ecology from Yale University. He wrote An Entirely Synthetic Fish as a research associate at the University of Colorado's Center of the American West. He lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and three sons.
For more, including historical photos and documents, please visit http://andershalverson.com

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Halverson's style is engaging and accessible and he manages to avoid sanctimony in making his points.
Andrew Schonbek
As an ecologist Halverson researched an engaging story filled with depth and critical insight and told with the deft skill of an accomplished journalist.
Samuel D. Snyder
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has acted intentionally to decrease the diversity so that the rainbow trout could prosper.
R. Hardy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Read More Books on March 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book blew me away. Incredible storytelling, amazing history. I'll never look at trout the same way again. If you like to fish or have any interest at all in environmental history and our relationship with the natural world, this book is a must read. I'd highly recommend it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I know little about fish or fishing, but I know fisherman like to go for rainbow trout, a good fish to have at the end of your line or to have in your frying pan. The rainbow trout is found all over our nation, and stands for conservation, and unspoiled waters, and the bounty of nature when nature is not trammeled by humans. Except that it does not really stand for any of these things. Maybe fisherman know all about this already, but for me, the revelations in _An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World_ (Yale University Press) were a surprise. The author Anders Halverson is a journalist, and has a doctorate in ecology, and likes to fish. He has hunted all through historical documents of government and conservation organizations, and interviewed plenty of researchers and others who have helped make the rainbow trout ubiquitous, or who are now trying to reduce its range. This is not just a fish book. It is a carefully written history of how we think about our natural resources, and about the paradoxes and dangers of trying to control the natural world.

Rainbow trout are native to waters feeding into the Pacific, in an arc that extends up from northern Mexico, though the northeastern states, and over to far eastern Russia. That doesn't matter anymore. They have been introduced to the Atlantic states, and in fact to every state. The only reason they aren't in Antarctica is that there is a lack of trout streams there; they are now on every other continent.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Scott Carles on March 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Sometime within the past ten years or so I became interested in native fish. I have nothing against any species, I just like to see fish that are "supposed" to be in a watershed, in that watershed, not some other species occupying that water. This desire to find native species in their native range has taken my fishing buddy and me to some out-of-the-way little creeks--we're talking about places in the middle of the desert 100 miles from the nearest town. Creeks whose widths are measured in inches, not feet. But it doesn't seem to matter where we go, how far away from "civilization" we get, we still come across water stocked with non-native species. Many of these places were stocked long before motorized travel was possible. And I've wondered what possessed people to stock fish in such places.

Anders Halverson's new book, An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World, answers that question for me. In a fascinating look at the social and political maneuverings of the late nineteenth century through the present, Anders' meticulous research lays bare some interesting tidbits of the stocking policies of the United States.

One such gem is that the government was worried about the strength of the nation's men: that they had "notoriously less hardihood and endurance than the generation which preceded [their:] own" (George Perkins Marsh, congressman and diplomat from the mid-1800's). This description was given in a report by Marsh under the auspices of the Legislature of Vermont on the Artificial Propagation of Fish. He further stated that "the sports of the chase" (angling being one of them) was a way to increase the hardiness of the Americans.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David B. Thomas on April 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is both a good read and provides, in some detail, a history and the resulting consequences of our attempts to manipulate nature in the form of a manufactured replacement fish for the fresh water fisheries we destroy or attempt to improve. The author is careful to provide the historic context under which decisions were made and to provide excellent notes and a bibliography. The latter contains much hard to find information and is likely worth the book price by itself. This book shoud be read by every thoughtful environmentally-concerned freshwater fisherman.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Taylor on March 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What a great read! As a freshwater fly fisher and a fish culturist that makes my living raising trout and salmon in a hatchery, I couldn't put this book down. Incredibly well researched, Anders paints a vivid, easy to read yet intriguing timeline of the environmental history of the trout and how it evolved to be, fly fishing in the 19th century, the formulation of conservation groups like Trout Unlimited, and our modern fish and game agencies both the states and US Fish and Wildlife Service. He covers topics such as how, and why, rainbows, browns, and brook trout were moved across the country (and the globe). He includes many very interesting photos that truly portray the times, such as a horse drawn cart loaded with milk cans that are filled with trout eggs standing in front of the Washington Monument still under construction; photos of the primitive hatchery incubation methods, and modified rail cars that shipped trout eggs across the nation. Anders delves further through time to the 20th century to discuss topics like the evolving views of fish and game agencies towards native and non-native fish species, the use of rotenone and the introduction and consequences of diseases like Whirling Disease. I found the author to be fair and unbiased in his reporting and summarization. This book will forever remain in my library, it is a interesting, detailed story of how trout came to be in North America. I highly recommend this read to any trout or freshwater fisher, aquaculturist, biologist, state, federal or private ambassador for fish and wildlife.
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