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Delta Primer: A Field Guide to the California Delta Paperback – October, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0970973160 ISBN-10: 0970973160

8 New from $29.95 20 Used from $6.94 1 Collectible from $48.53
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 195 pages
  • Publisher: William K Stout Pub (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0970973160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970973160
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,799,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Parman on February 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Washington Univ. Prof. Jane Wolff's "Delta Primer" explores the California Delta, both a natural and man-made phenomenon just east of the Bay Area which today is being used or fought over by a diverse constituency, including developers intent on paving it over. Her wonderful, beautifully illustrated book addresses these different dimensions, making the point that the Delta's future has become like a game of chance in which all of us hold the cards. You can see recent reviews of the book by landscape architect Barbara Stauffacher Solomon in the Winter 04 issue of _line ([...]) and by SF Chronicle urban design writer John King ([...] It's also available in paperback, published by San Francisco's William Stout. A work of art and dedicated scholarship, it's highly recommended. And after you read it, get to work saving the Delta! - John Parman
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A on December 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was reading part of Kevin Starr's preface to Delta Primer aloud to one of my kids tonight, and thought I'd check in on Jane Wolff--didn't know she taught at Washington University. Clicked through to here and couldn't believe there was only one review. I just bought a second copy (used, for $15? on Amazon) as my first copy has become part of the lending library of life. I know it was loved by two architects and a carpooling advocate here in the Bay Area. . . .

I've only been here for 10 years, and certainly didn't GET the delta until reading this book. But you don't really read it. You immerse yourself in it, you get absorbed by it. You wallow around in it. You let it bang around in your head--in my case for a couple of years, in great detail.

The multi-layered sophistication of the graphics is amazing. The way Wolff conveys fundamental concepts is wonderful. If he doesn't already, Edward Tufte should raise the book up in his hands every time he conducts a high priced workshop.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By janie on July 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is primarily a reproduction of a deck of playing cards. The front and back of each card is depicted on facing pages: a colored map on one side and a black-and-white graphic on the other. Each card is reproduced at 3.5 by 5 inches.

The cards are supposed to convey information (or perhaps only data) about the Sacramento Delta, but they can't because they're too small to be read or deciphered. In almost all cases, there is too much detail to be reproduced in a graphic of this size. Much of the graphics text is about a millimeter tall. Most of the map data cannot be read without a magnifying glass.

Perhaps to make up for the lack of information obtainable from the playing cards, the author provides annotations. While many of the snippets were interesting, the selection of this or that fact seemed arbitrary and out of context. I would bet that anyone would learn more about the Sacramento Delta by reading seven pages of the author's introduction than by "reading" the 120 pages of playing card depictions.

At first I thought the book was designed to be coffee-table size with each illustration being three or four times bigger. But this would defeat the conceit of the project being a deck playing cards, which I'm assuming was predicated on a shuffling metaphor to enable multiple meanings and divergent strategies.

That the book "is scrupuloulsy non-partisan" as Kevin Starr writes in the premise, is a polite way of saying that the book doesn't have a point of view, or even a point really, if it can't successfully convey information through the conceit of its own devising.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are really into understanding the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta in California, then you'll love this book. Not a light read.
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