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Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies Hardcover – May 6, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
With wit and passion, Strand (Flight: A Novel) explores the history of Niagara Falls and shows that the famous natural wonder is in reality a prime example of man's manipulation of nature, constantly exploited to attract tourists. In the 19th century, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, appalled by the crass commercialism of souvenir shops, ugly signs and cheap attractions, pledged to restore Niagara to its natural beauty; instead, he created a fake wilderness. In the 20th century, humans learned to control the falls by harnessing them for electric power, and this led to what is for Strand the most shocking fakery: the water going over the falls is manipulated for greater output in the daytime—to impress visitors—and turned down at night to generate more power. In addition, the capacity to generate large amounts of hydroelectricity has made Niagara Falls a prime spot for industries that manufacture electrochemical products and for nuclear weapons facilities; the author paints a vivid picture of a region awash today in toxic waste and radioactive contaminants. Strand's provocative and iconoclastic book says much about how America has dominated nature, despoiled it and shrouded the offense in myth. 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW. (May)
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". . .a book that is wild and sometimes thrilling . . . It's a wonder that a book this fun can be so thoughtful, so deeply felt." -- The New York Times, June 2, 2008
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Top customer reviews
Here's what I suggest. If you are one of these people that goes to Niagara Falls and can look for a few hours and be content to move on to the casinos or Clifton Hill entertainment (ie Ripley's, haunted houses, water slides) then you are not going to appreciate this book very much. However, if you really want to know some real "geeky" (my kids word for me, alas) stuff about hydro power, chemical landfills, misplaced mice killed by radiation, etc. then you will probably adore this book, as I did. The book scores on many levels.
Most recent customer reviews
Niagara Falls, New York, is just down the road from me, and it is by any definition a mess.Read more