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Shadows on the Gulf: A Journey through Our Last Great Wetland Hardcover – April 26, 2011

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Brimming with engaging information about a little-known region and leavened with moments of grace." --Wall Street Journal

"A must-read for anyone who cares about the richest estuary on earth, or one of the most endangered land masses." --Huffington Post

Shadows is not specifically about the Deepwater Horizon blowout and its aftermath--although it plays a central role in the narrative. It's brimming with engaging information about a little-known region and leavened with moments of grace. (Wall Street Journal)

Brilliant… The wonderfully vivid descriptions of the landscape will place readers right by Jacobsen's side as he describes the changes to the biodiversity, environment, and culture of the Gulf region. (Library Journal)

About the Author

Rowan Jacobsen is the James Beard Award- winning author of A Geography of Oysters, Fruitless Fall, The Living Shore, and American Terroir. He has written about food,place, and the natural world for Harper's, Newsweek, Eating Well, and others, and his commentaries on the Gulf crisis have appeared in Outside magazine and the New York Times and on MSNBC. He was raised in Florida and attended school on the Gulf Coast.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First U.S. Edition, 1st printing edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608195813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608195817
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #991,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rowan Jacobsen is the author of A Geography of Oysters, Fruitless Fall, The Living Shore, American Terroir, Shadows on the Gulf, and Apples of Uncommon Character. He has written for the New York Times, Harper's, Outside, Mother Jones, Orion, The Boston Globe, and others, and his work has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and Best Food Writing collections. He has won a couple of James Beard Awards, an IACP award, and some others. His 2010 book, American Terroir, was named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by Library Journal. His Outside Magazine piece Heart of Dark Chocolate received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers for best adventure story of the year, and his Harper's piece The Homeless Herd was named best magazine piece of the year by the Overseas Press Club. He was a 2012 Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, writing about endangered diversity on the borderlands between India, Myanmar, and China. He lives in Vermont. Learn more at www.rowanjacobsen.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark K. Mcdonough VINE VOICE on September 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I had avoided reading books on the Gulf oil spill because I frankly didn't want to read several hundred pages on the idiotic decision-making that led up to it, nor about the mind-boggling fecklessness of the clean-up efforts.

I get it. I don't need to spend a week reading about it.

The only reason I picked up Jacobsen's book is because it doesn't mention the oil spill on the cover - I thought I was just getting a "nature book."

The book is actually a look at the spill, the technology of oil drilling, and the culture and ecology of the Gulf. Each topic is treated with just enough detail, and the portions on the Gulf and its environment are wonderful. I live halfway across the country from the Gulf, but I came away with a better appreciation of its people and its environment and a better understanding of how the oil spill happened. For example, Jacobsen points out that on deep wells, blowout preventers have only been used a few times and have failed about half of the time - so this was not an unforeseeable disaster as often portrayed in the press.

Each chapter in the book reads like a long, extremely well-crafted magazine article on an aspect of the Gulf or of the spill. Jacobsen is an excellent writer, and has a great way of explaining relatively complex topics gracefully and without getting bogged down in details.

One of the better books on any subject I have read this year. In terms of detail, tone, and style it is "just right."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Darrall on December 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Rowan Jacobsen approaches the subject of the Gulf and its complicated past with great depth. He is placing the Deepwater Horizon accident holistically within the context of the environment, commerce and civilization.

I've learned more about the accident in ten pages of his writing than I did in the months of news coverage following the event. But more importantly, he makes clear the larger issue that many of us in the environmental field understand intuitively: this is not just man-versus-something; it's a problem of mindset, of recognizing that our connections to each other (which includes non-humans and the physical surroundings) are not limited by distance or time or culture. We must be willing to see and reach and act beyond ourselves and our local communities.

Jacobsen's writing is clear and heartfelt. He obviously deeply appreciates nature but is not overly sentimental about it - this isn't tree-hugging. Jacobsen is plainly stating truth: that our personal health is tied to the health of our ecosystems, for we are a part of them.

To separate ourselves from our physical surroundings is a falsity that leads only to our decline
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John the Reader on July 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
(This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.)

This, I think, is quite an important book and certainly the proposals tendered by author Jacobsen on aiding a recovery of sorts to the massively damaged Gulf deserve a large hearing. At first I was encouraged by what he found in his opening chapters, and began to believe there was a promising resilience in the wildlife and ecosystem of our last great wetlands. However; as Rowan Jacobsen continued his tour of the region and more details were revealed, that promise seemed to evaporate. BP's Deepwater Horizon rig blow-out and futilely incompetent efforts to limit the effects of the explosion and subsequent leakage, are, Jacobsen argues, only the latest - and perhaps closing- chapters of a 100 year long disaster, and do not even measure up to be a major significance in the overall rape of the Gulf and the ongoing destruction of the regional ecology by hurricane, seepage, outfall, over-fishing, and erosion - all supported by a massive assist from the Army Corp of Engineering.
The Gulf of Mexico is one of the world's most beautiful bodies of water, anywhere. It is vitally important to the world's interlinked ecosystem and provides significant contribution to the food chain of all sea and many land creatures. The resources are, of course, more than food alone and oil, gas and mineral extraction are significant factors in its overall value to our economy and infrastructure. The Mississippi River and Delta have been a national treasure for centuries. But, as Jacobson demonstrates, may within just one generation, cease to provide for its peoples, and the Delta and City of New Orleans, eroding at a rate of a football field a day, will sink into the Gulf as a `modern day Atlantis'.
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By W on July 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
An easy-to-read explanation of the Mississippi Delta and the Gulf's ecosystems, and how they have been impacted by humans - culminating in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Somehow Jacobson weaves this all into a story you actually want to read, meeting locals along the way. The book takes readers through the attempts to reign in and control this vast wetland -- and destroying it in the process. Oil and Gas companies have turned Louisiana into a Banana Republic, unable to pull itself out of looming environmental disaster. Jacobson doesn't pretend to be perfect, admitting we are all part of the problem in this oil dependent society. There are also interesting facts about the amounts of pollution coming down the Mississippi from the Midwest, and that not just Oil and Gas corporations are to blame. A compelling read.

After reading this book, you won't buy New Orleans property or eat Gulf seafood anytime soon. While he outlines how and why the Delta and Wetlands should be restored/preserved, it remains to be seen if such plans can ever come to fruition.
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