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Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast Paperback – March 9, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375725172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375725173
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This lyrically intense travelogue will provide historians of the not too distant future with a guide to a vanishing landscape and a lost culture. Tidwell (Mountains of Heaven) graphically recounts catching rides on shrimp boats and crab boats through the dark water swamps of southern Louisiana into the heart of Cajun country. Here, among the great blue heron, spoonbill, gar and gator, the reader meets bayou folk-from the honest and generous fishermen, who provide the author with room, board and transport for his work as a deck hand, to the disheveled backwoods healer who intrigues and tantalizes the writer with his shamanistic spells and incantations. It is these portraits of people on the edge of survival, living in a world where the land is sinking into the sea at a rate of 25 acres a day, that truly engage the reader. A variety of ecological factors have contributed to the subsidence of the Mississippi Delta. With good intentions to stop deadly floods, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed a vast network of levees and dams along the river, preventing the annual devastating floods of the past. Unfortunately, this also ended the yearly buildup of silt, necessary for the reinforcement and continued existence of the fragile marshlands in the low country. The nutrient-rich, but light, sandy soil cannot withstand the ceaseless eroding forces of ocean tide and winds. The author's descriptive powers, especially of people, provide the reader with enduring snapshots of a water-bound way of life that is sinking into history.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

An award-winning writer on travel and the environment regrets the devastation of Louisiana's Cajun coast.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This is an engaging and enlightening book.
R. Krumm
According to Michael Tidwell, in his book Bayou Farewell, twenty-five miles of Louisiana coastline disappear each year.
Book Junkie
The book is informative and educational and yet reads like a beautifully written travel book or novel.
Brigitte

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Southern Reader on January 14, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very well read friend of mine in recommending this book said it is not only a wonderful book about Louisiana and its people, but maybe the best book he has ever read period. On such a recommendation I immediately ordered a copy.

And now I see why my friend loved the book. what's not to like.

The author highlights the serious coastal erosion problem we have in Louisiana by getting invovled with a lot of the people affected by the pending disaster. He visits them in their homes and rides with them on their oyster and shripmp boats.

One gets a real insight into the Cajun culture.

After reading the book I realized that I hadn't been down in the bayous for awhile. So, I made a point to get down there and reexperience the unique place that it is. Bayou Farewell is that kind of a book.

One thing, though, if you have been consdiering changing carreers to become a crabber, you might oughta read this book first. Crabbing is a rough way to go.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By mojosmom VINE VOICE on November 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A beautiful and sad book about the disappearance of Louisiana's bayou country, and with it, the way of life of the people who live there, the Cajun, Houma and Vietnamese fishermen and shrimpers who provide us with an amazin 30% of America's annual seafood harvest. Thanks to levees on the Mississippi, oil company canals, and other interference with nature, coastal Louisiana is losing land the size of Manhattan every year. The land is sinking, the barrier islands disappearing, and with them go protection against hurricanes, resting places for migratory birds, and a seafood-rich ecosystem.

That it is possible to halt the destruction of this habitat is known. The Atchafalaya River, Louisiana's second largest, still pours silt from its mouth to form new land, and small diversion projects are helping. But more and major diversions of the Mississippi, to allow it once again to build up the coast instead of dumping its silt over the continental shelf, must happen and happen quickly before it is too late.

Before, in the words of one shrimper, "Dere won't be no more nothin' left anymore, forever".
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jim Bagley on September 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Mike Tidwell - the celebrated author of In the Mountains of Heaven, Amazon Stranger, and The Ponds of Kalambayi - has written a compelling book on the Cajun coast of Louisiana, that, in light of Hurricane Katrina, could not be more timely. Unbeknownst to Tidwell when he began this expose, the coast was already eroding and joining the Gulf of Mexico, making it the fastest disappearing landmass on Earth.

Tidwell's travelogue introduces us to the eclectic group of people who populate the area: the Cajun men and women who work the seasonal shrimp harvest, the Vietnamese fishermen, and the Houma Indians who were driven to the farthest ends of the bayou by the first European settlers. He describes the food, the music, the culture, and the lifestyle of those who call the bayou home.

The book was intended as a reminder of how much we stood to lose if we failed to address the environmental problems facing this unique region. Due to Katrina, it may now serve as a recollection of what we have now lost.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Fred in Milwaukee on September 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
I saw the author of NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" this week and had bought the book immediately...and coudn't put it down. The author explains why Louisiana is in in the awful state that it is..and how the problems are mostly man-made...

In this book he explains...what you DON'T know about Katrina and the Gulf Coast: Why was the destruction so severe? Why was this NOT a natural disaster but one created by a century of destructive dike-building along the Mississippi River.

He answers the questions many in the media are failing to address: Why is New Orleans below sea level to begin with? Why had Louisiana's barrier islands largely vanished long before Katrina hit?

He outlines the only plan that has any chance of saving New Orleans from another nightmare of this sort: Building bigger dikes and cleaning up the debris of the city is NOT a solution. We have to do something human beings have never done before: Harness the great Mississippi to surgically create a buffer of new land between New Orleans and the Gulf.

He explains why Katrina is rapidly turning into a September 11th moment for this country: After this hurricane, nothing in America will ever be the same again.

He explains why gas prices are now soaring and our economy is about to suffer significantly in our manufacturing and agricultural export sectors.

And he explains why another threat, global warming, made Katrina so severe and why all the great coastal cities of the world -- New York, Shanghai, Bombay, Gadansk -- will look just like New Orleans 75 years from now unless we switch soon to energy sources free of greenhouse gases.

A MUST READ for anyone interested in what's happening now in New Orleans.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By K. Fischer on June 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Although I daily witness the results of over-engineering on the Upper Mississippi River as backwaters fill in, wetlands disappear, floods rise higher and faster, and various species take to higher ground (thanks to the devastation caused by maintaining a 9 foot channel), I was astonished by the opening pages of Tidwell's Bayou Farewell. He quotes a Louisian shrimper who claims, "Every twenty minutes or so, a football field of land turns to water in Louisiana."

Given recent scandals involving Army Corps of Enngineers book-cooks and their persistent efforts to spend enormous sums of taxpayer money to extend and add additional levies and locks and dams, Tidwell's book offers the most powerful foil in the form of well-researched facts and compelling life stories from those who live in the bayou.

If you care about this third largest river in the world, if you care about ecosystems and environment, read this book. I've sent copies to congress members and senators urging them to propose or at least support legislation halting coastal erosion and further engineering of the Mississippi.
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