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on November 21, 2000
This is not a history of the Pacific Northwest, nor even a comprehensive contemporary profile of this region. It is one man's often very personal view of his home, the place where he grew up, and the political, social and economic issues that underlie everyday life there. Egan makes no attempt at cold objectivity; he is writing about something he loves, and this comes through in the text. He also makes abundantly clear what he doesn't like. Thus, this book is controversial and thought-provoking. Although "The Good Rain" is ostensibly about the Pacific Northwest, an area that at its widest extent includes Washington, Oregon, most of British Columbia in Canada and even the northern parts of California, Egan focuses mostly on parts of Washington, which is good, because this is what he knows best (even though the chapter on the Siskiyou forests of Oregon is very well written and informative). The book is well organized, and Egan selected the main topics for his chapters well; they cover the principal socio-economic and political concerns of the region: timber and loggers, salmon, fruit-growing, urban development, the local Native Americans, the Columbia River, etc. He also did a good deal of research on the region's history upon settlement (or conquest) by the Americans and the British, and his writing makes these often dry facts come to life. Probably the main theme of Egan's argument here is that as the Pacific Northwest makes its transition into a vital part of the Pacific Rim, it needs to discard the central resource extraction element of its economy which marked its early years of development (after the Indians were pushed aside). The author here makes no secret of his distaste for the rapacious timber industry (even though he is not anti-logger or opposed to sustainable use of forests) and the Army Corps of Engineers (which is still intent on damming up the last untouched parts of the Columbia and destroying the remaining significant salmon runs). Although it was written ten years ago, "The Good Rain" has lost none of its freshness and relevance. Perhaps my only criticisms would be a) Egan often omitted citing dates even when dealing with specific events (so that there is reference to e.g. something taking place "in Seattle tonight") and b) he relies too much and sometimes depends excessively on a book by Theodore Winthrop, a New Englander who traveled through the region in 1853. Nevertheless, this book is well worth reading.
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VINE VOICEon February 27, 2007
This collection of essays by Seattle native and New York Times journalist Timothy Egan is stuffed to the gills with facts about the wildlife, water and land in and around the Pacific Northwest. Each chapter begins with a map of the area under consideration, categorized by region and topic, including: a reclusive mountaineer's conquests in the Cascade Range, local volcanos, the wild waters around "We Ain't Quaint" Astoria, the history of Seattle, apple harvesting in the Yakima Valley, the Native American Puyallups, and logging in the Siskiyous of southwestern Oregon. Although with a preachy style that would make Rachel Carlson proud, Egan is a fantastic storyteller with the ability to meld anecdotes, facts and opinion in such a way that every chapter is absolutely engaging. The Good Rain contains an abundance of information about all things environmental, and is at least as useful and relevant today as it was in 1990 when it was first published. Of his three works of nonfiction, (the others being Breaking Blue, and the National Book Award winning Lasso the Wind), this is the best.
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on May 14, 1999
Timothy Egan writes with the flair of a novelist, but with the insight and detail of a journalist. His "Good Rain" is the finest look at my home corner of the country that I have ever read. I actually put down a John McPhee book to read this one!
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on September 1, 2000
I'm now a confirmed Timothy Egan fan. What a wonderful book! (And thoughtful, evocative writer.) He so skillfully brings together the multiple strands of this book -- human, natural, written, and personal histories -- that you feel physically drawn into the events and locations he describes. This is not a book just for lovers of the Pacific Northwest; anyone who is interested in people, politics, history, nature, or travel will be held captive by Egan's words. As someone born and raised in the Northwest (Pacific and Inland), I was astounded by his insight. Once again, he delves deep into the heart of our communal history to bring up forgotten (or unnoticed) truths.
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on December 16, 2015
No writer knows the Pacific Northwest outdoors and its interplay with history like writer and New York Times columnists Timothy Egan. His accounts of the environment and especially the weather of the region are based on countless forays into the woods, along the rivers, and on the mountains with occasional stops in the cities. The Good Rain is one of Egan’s early volumes, written 25 years ago. Today the regional environment is more appreciated and protected even as it is more stressed and threatened. In this time of climate warming – currently with a severe drought in the Pacific Northwest – an appreciation of rain is even more pronounced and more prevalent.

The subtitle here is “Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest,” and it is apt. Egan presents much of the region’s history as it pertains to the outdoors, and he expertly describes Native Americans’ relation to their surroundings and the disruptive, damaging projects of the European and American settlers. Egan gives special notice to the region’s rivers. But there’s no stern harangue about plundering of outdoor treasures. His account of restoring the Willamette River in Oregon reveals the light touch his writing takes. He tells the impact of Oregon’s governor Tom McCall in the late 1960s who was determined to clean up the river. “Under McCall, a zealot with a droll sense of humor and an unshakable sense of destiny, the Willamette was treated like the main artery of the Pope.” And McCall was successful with a vastly cleaner river in the 1970s. Yet the grand Columbia River takes most of Egan’s interest, and everyone in the region should read his tales across time about it.

Michael Helquist, MARIE EQUI: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions
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on March 12, 2016
If you are interested in the history of the NW, you will find this book very interesting. It has a lot of character, it takes you to the present 1990 and far into the past. Egan has a way with words and giving you an awesome description of the way it was and the way it is.
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on January 4, 2013
I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of my 70+ years. The book brings back fond memories of places I love and interesting background information for news and stories I vaguely remember. The author is skilled at his craft. I received the book as a gift from my brother, and have given the Kindle edition to my son.
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on January 3, 2014
Interesting multifaceted look using a series of trips and travels about the NW region connecting history and man induced changes to the richness of the regions resources. Mr. Egan has above average word skills among current authors. His environmental biases show through in several places where better research would have prevented some of the non-fact based advocacy. Factual errors aside, the message that big businesses in cooperation with compliant government has done serious damage to the wonders of the region comes through. . Builds a strong case for preserving what is left and restoring where one can. Two big themes that have been hammered in many books are the impact of the Columbia river basin dams on the fisheries and the extensive harvesting of the mature forests.
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on November 16, 1998
One of the best books I've read. I've lived in the Northwest all my life, but learned more about the region from this one book than from any other source. The book looks at how the Northwest has changed and how we have changed it over the last 150 years. Egan looks at specific places when telling his history like Crater Lake, Olympic National Forest, etc. I was surprised by how the changes in the natural history held my interest as well as the human history. This book led me to take a trip to the beautiful Olympic National Park in Washington and has led to my interest in Jon Krakauer's books. I can't wait to read Egan's new book.
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on April 8, 2002
This book is so richly textured, I read it in small sections, so I could savor the paragraphs a little at a time. Mr Egan's style of writing is vivid and beautiful, without being overly wordy. A lot of the history in this book, I already knew, but discovered anew; and some I did not know, and am thrilled to learn. My grandparents were immigrants to Seattle in 1906 from Poland, and I feel such a sense of belonging here, that it is wonderful to view the Northwest with someone else's eyes. I count myself as a fan of Mr Egan. I am recommending this book to many friends and family, as it was recommended to me.
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