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The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution, Twentieth Anniversary Edition Paperback – April 24, 2003
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"Wallace is among the very best of our nature writers, one whose work is marked by grace, feeling and a deep desire to know the natural world in all its moods."--Harry Middleton, "Philadelphia Inquirer"
From the Inside Flap
"In Wallace's hands, evolution is never mechanical or abstract; it is always seen operating in particular sites and species. As a stylist and a thinker Wallace is in a select class of writers who make science into literature."Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia
"For those of us who like David Rains Wallace's writing, it is good news indeed that his much-admired The Klamath Knot is back in print."Sue Hubbell, author of Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys into the Time Before Bones
"A classic of natural history which will take its place alongside Walden and A Sand County Almanac."G. Ledyard Stebbins, author of Variation and Evolution in Plants
"The Klamath Knot is a marvelous book, one of the finest nature essays I have read, beautifully written, full of stimulating ideas and insights."George B. Schaller, author of The Last Panda
Top customer reviews
the Pacific Ocean, lies the Klamath Knot -- a "knot" being what geologists call a nightmare.
For starters, the whole topography is upside down, as driven by plate tectonics.
For teasers, the author convincingly portrays the Klamath Knot as
the most natural habitat of "giants." Yes, Bigfoot.
Thoreau himself could not have woven the Knot more authoritatively or
more poetically than Wallace.
Even though Wallace's knowledge of the Klamath ecosystems and the dynamics of evolution are fundamentally sound, he's grasping for much more in this book. As the smaller print under the title states, it's an "exploration of myth and evolution." The Klamath Knot represents the rare blend of hard science of the world we can observe and measure with that of the world we can only imagine or dream. That's quite a subject-matter-bridge to cross, but Wallace pulls it off. Once I got a couple of chapters into the book, the distinction between science and myth began to blur (i.e., Do giants really exist? Not sure).
Wallace doles out each chapter as the creator planned it. He introduces us to rock, primal ooze, water, and ultimately life. And the backdrop for each major step of life evolving on this planet is the Klamath Mountains. A truly magical and diverse region along the California and Oregon border that stretches from the Rogue River south to the Eel River. A place that is home to old growth forests, runs of salmon and steelhead, and high deserts. Wallace takes us into some of the more remote places of the Klamath and masterfully focuses on the biological importance of each ecosystem.
The book goes well beyond the physical world and ponders some interesting questions. Like where is life on our planet headed? Is it possible to know where it's headed? What can we learn from evolution? Does life evolve from cooperation or competition or both? What is the role of myth? Does Big-Foot really exist? Could he exist? Is this creature another branch along life's tree?
I admire the author for both his skill and courage in addressing such diverse subject matter. Reading the Klamath Know will leave you with a renewed sense of wonder about the natural world.
The Klamath Knot also perpetuates a common belief that the Klamath Mountains are a magnet for kooks who are convinced Bigfoot is running around in the night, among other delusions. This perception is not harmless if it causes would-be supporters to dismiss the region as a creepy backwater and lose interest in its conservation.
It's deeply (though not overtly) spiritual, discussing life with a sense of wonder we often leave behind. It's also as intelligent, and as important, as any good academic work on ecology, but unlike most of those, it'll draw you in, pulling so subtly you won't even feel its power until suddenly you've finished a chapter and realized your perceptions have changed.
Until you've picked it up, you won't know what I mean, but it won't take long to see that THE KLAMATH KNOT can make the Mystery that is life more accessible to all of us. For this reason, it isn't just a philosophical toy you'll be able to discard; instead, you'll find it informs the way you live in the world.