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Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River Hardcover – May 18, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Waterman, whose earlier books illuminate the Arctic, strikes an impressive balance between the personal and the political in chronicling his journey down the Colorado River. Quoting those who have traveled its depths before, such as John Wesley Powell and Wallace Stegner, he writes not only about the river’s now-dying power but also the extensive regulations put in place to control and possess it. And yet as much as this is about the river, Waterman also discusses individuals invested in its survival from biologists to the many watermen and -women whose livelihoods come from navigating its length. The misguided playground of Lake Powell proves to be an unsavory stopping point, but the author perseveres in his search for answers. From Vegas to Mexico, he finds waste and ruin and then turns a corner to discover the fruits of hard-won battles for bird sanctuaries and brilliant uses of drip irrigation. Through it all, he ruminates about the choices between life and death for humankind and rivers. An evocative and bold take on a river and what winning the West really means, Waterman’s book epitomizes the best of environmental writing. --Colleen Mondor

Review

“An evocative and bold take on a river and what winning the West really means, Waterman’s book epitomizes the best of environmental writing.” –Booklist Starred Review
 
“…through the author’s eyes we see how everything beautiful and majestic, and difficult and frightening, about the United States in 2010 is carried in the currents of that river. You can’t put it down, and you can’t put it aside, without asking yourself: What should I be doing differently?” –2010 Banff Mountain Book Festival, “Best Book-Adventure Travel”
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; Har/Map edition (May 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426205058
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426205057
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #940,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read the first 18% of this book on my Kindle and I can't say enough positive things about the book. I expected the book to be a simple recounting of a paddle down the Colorado River and instead I'm getting a fascinating history lesson on Western states water law and an abreviated bio on the author's paddle mates and interviewees. Having spent a relished year in Breckenridge as a fifth grader in 1979, I have a romanticized view of Colorado that is being brought fast forward to the modern and unsustainable Colorado of 2009. Having spent a week touring from Denver to Lake Powell last summer, I have seen in person the bathtub ring of lowered water levels. This book is helping me understand that they might be permanent.

I'll give an update when I finish the book.

Oh, and I do wish there were pictures. I don't know if there are pictures somewhere in the book because I can't fan the pages of a Kindle book looking for them, but there ought to be a picture on every page. I have seen none yet. I am using Microsoft Streets and Trips and Google Earth on my laptop to see where the author is at any point in the book. Street View is very helpful to get an idea of the topography.

I think this book would be great for parents to share with their kids while using mapping software and following along on the authors travels.

UPDATE: I've now finished reading the book. I still highly recommend the book. I found a few pictures at the absolute end of my Kindle edition. I highly prefer photos be embedded at the relevant portion of the book. Also, a few places seem to be truncated w/o the end of sentences. Don't know why that happened. I recall only one spelling error where a "there" should have been a "their.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ralph S. Bovard on September 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Waterman's new book, "Running Dry", published by the National Geographic Society, is an incredibly timely and important work. I have been down the Grand Canyon twice and feel that I am relatively well informed on environmental issues, but this work has really shocked and challenged me to think about what we are doing in America to our rivers, waterways, and lakes. We take for granted that our conservation corp and federal resource management groups know what they are doing and are committed to the long term preservation of our wilderness. It is clear however that this is not always the case. There are many powerful, vested interests involved that make the politics of water rights & water quality an issue in which all of us need to participate.

In my own community, the University of Minnesota recently tried to censor a film "Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story", presumably under pressure from the agricultural industry worried about public relations. Truth has many faces, and we need to be vigilant and involved if we are not be misled and hornswoggled in the issue of environmental water conservation.

Jon has been an environmental steward his entire life. He has now written 10 books; virtually all engage the reader to value and protect our wilderness areas. His early service as a Denali park ranger led to his writing "Surviving Denali". His more recent books reach from the Sea of Cortez ("Kayaking the Vermillion Sea") to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Northwest Passage ("Where Mountains are Nameless"). The National Geographic has a pretty good track record of supporting the best and the brightest scientists and journalists to present valuable information to their readership.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By George on July 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm surprised to find only 5 reviews of this book, and so widely separated, with 4 "Greats" and 1 "Lousy." I'm somewhere in the middle.
First, Waterman is not a great writer. At several points, I considered quitting the book, as he jumped from topic to topic, inserted references without explanation, dropped too many names, and shared just a little too much about his personal issues, particularly his mother's recent death. I see no reason to include all of that in an otherwise very informative book about a great river. It was tedious and annoying.
Second, he gives a bit too much detail about many river aspects - which Commission did what to whom, what Ranger said this or that, which tributary goes here or there, which chemical burned his foot that day. Detail is fine, but like salt, there can be too much. He wore me out.
Third, he is overly biased in ridiculing any fishermen but those using dry flies, and any boaters (except for his Park Ranger hero) who use motors. Clearly, we have a disaster on Lake Powell, but he paints all motorboaters as ignorant, oblivious red necks. I imagine there are a few ignorant, oblivious kayakers out there.
All big issues are complex, and issues negatively affecting the Colorado River are enormously complex. Waterman does give good insight into this world, but doesn't really offer any solutions, other than smaller populations, farms, dams, and no motorboats. That's pretty unrealistic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rangercurt on October 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best recently written books to help folks understand water management issues in the Colorado River Basin. I read it immediately prior to reading "Dead Pool", an outstanding follow-on to "Running Dry" for those folks who really want to understand the history and current issues of water management in the arid American Southest.
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