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Finding the River: An Environmental History of the Elwha Paperback – December 1, 2011
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Crane's research is impressive, and his narrative prose . . . drives home a conservation message with extraordinary force. Crane discusses the Elwha Dam as part of a larger story of industrialization and de-industrialization of rivers across America and plumbs the literature on the romantic, conservation, and environmental movements to understand reasons for its removal. The scope of the book . . . is impressive. In this sense, Finding the River will remain the exemplar in what is sure to become a growing commentary on dam-removal all across America. -Richard Judd, Oregon Historical Quarterly
Crane sets out to explore the Elwha and the evolving environmental attitudes that have shaped it. This open-ended approach makes the book a remarkably smooth and fluid read, with a narrative that runs easily from the ice age to the present day. This style does demand a little more attention from an academic reader, though, as Crane braids his findings and arguments seamlessly into the Elwha story.-Peter Brewitt, Journal of Environmental Studies
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Top Customer Reviews
However, author Jeff Crane peels back the many layers surrounding the recent removal of the Elwah and Glines Canyon dams which have starved the river of its salmon for decades. Crane uses this topic as a jumping off point for a larger discussion involving the native Klallam Indian culture, the nature and evolution of environmental discourse in America, the role of state and federal government in environmentalism, and what the restoration of the Elwah river means in a larger context of a nationwide environmental movement. Each one of these topics, Crane handles with care and is very aware of the scholarship that came before him (I say this with in mind the first chapter over the Klallam Indians and his treatment of Richard White in his conclusion).
Through his meticulous and careful writing, Crane successfully infuses the topics of river restoration and environmentalism with subtlety and nuance. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read William Cronen's "Changes in the Land" or anyone who is interested in environmental history or ecology.
The Elwha River is located in the northern reaches of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula and flows through Olympic National Park before emptying into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was the location of two treaty-defying dam projects which transcended decades, were an engineering blunder, and ultimately failed to deliver on their promises to the public and politicians who lobbied for them. After much debate, the decision was made, with federal support, to deconstruct the two technologically obsolete dams. If this were the intended scope of the book, it would be complete and resolved in its mission.Read more ›
What this book actually does is only discuss how salmon and the Klallam Indians have been affected by the two dams on the Elwha River. The central argument of the book can be summarized as follows: Fish and Indians good, white man and dams bad. This might be true, but his argument both lacks clarity and fails to address any other ways of looking at the issues - and thus fail to feel well developed. It feels less like a thoughtful environmentalist speaking, and more like a High School student recounting what his social studies teacher taught him as though they were his own ideas.
The book does do a tolerable job of describing how natives utilized the river, including a particularly fascinating account about how the natives fished. He goes on to narrate the arrival of the white man (very little detail is given), and the erection of the two dams.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Things that run silently, well almost then, sorry traveler, one must lean an ear to the earth in a pause. Read morePublished on June 7, 2013 by Louis J. Profeta
A great book. Well written and well documented historical review of eviromental impacts of society on the Elwha river and the area. Read morePublished on February 26, 2013 by Eman
We enjoyed reading about the local history and reflecting on some of the information we already new. Fun to compare our old pics with some of the books information.Published on February 10, 2013 by Tom Sickler
Previous reviewers have noted that this isn't really an environmental history, at least not in the sense of explicating the deep ecological history of the Elwha River. Read morePublished on September 18, 2012 by W. E. Yake