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Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place Paperback – September 1, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Terry begins the prologue with "Everything about the Great Salt Lake is exaggerated - the heart, the cold, the salt, and the brine. It is a landscape so surreal one can never know what it is for certain. ... Most of the women in my family are dead. Cancer. At thirty-four, I became the matriarch of my family." pg.3. This book chronicles one woman's love of the desert, of the bird refuge and of her family. It tells the story of cancer clusters in the desert where the US Government tested thousands of nuclear devices from the 1940's to the 60's.Read more ›
As a medical and radiation oncologist with nearly a quarter century of experience, as a man whose parents died of unusual malignancies, and as the parent of a child with cancer, grief is a part of the experience of life with which I am well acquainted. This book is probably the most honest and eloquent expression of grief and the struggle of an extraordinarily sensitive woman with spirituality and loss as I have ever read. It is not without its faults, but even these are very revealing about the way human beings deal with a world in which change and loss are inevitable.
Faults? There are only two that come to mind. One is the title. There is nothing in this book that is unnatural in any way. Loss and sorrow are as natural as any other human experience. The second is the trap so many of us fall into of searching for cause and effect, a way to assuage grief by assigning blame that becomes evident in the final chapter. However, Mrs. Williams can be forgiven for that. She has left us with an insightful and lyrical account of her mother's illness and the comfort the beauty of the natural world brought to a daughter left alone. This is one woman with a sensitive and honest heart who is not afraid to let the rest of us look inside. There is much to be learned from what Mrs. Williams has written and Refuge is highly recommended.
By the way, Terry, one of your mother's doctors, Gary Johnson, delivered my son who was fortunate enough to survive his own battle with cancer 18 years later. It was a pleasure to see his name mentioned.Read more ›
In the spring of 1983 a significant rise in the Great Salt Lake began to flood her beloved Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and at the same time cancer cells began to flood her mother's body. As owls, avocets and egrets struggle to survive the rising waters, Williams' mother struggles to find peace and comfort in dying. Where mother nature is damaged, mother Tempest is too.
Williams has a truly poetic ability to tie the spirit of land and of family into one beautiful image. "I am reminded that what I adore, admire and draw from Mother is inherent in the Earth. My mother's spirit can be recalled simply by placing my hands on the black humus of mountains or the lean sands of desert. Her love, warmth, and her breath, even her arms around me-are the waves, the wind, sunlight, and water.", she writes.
In the process of dealing with so much pain and loss Williams shifts from a casual observer of life's folly to passionate activist. Ultimately she puts the pieces of puzzle together to see a picture of generations of cancer certainly tied to exposure to the on-going nuclear testing by the American government in the Utah desert. William's chilling awakening to the manipulation of the environment by man in the name of progress should serve as our own wake-up call to the capacity of destruction that we have tolerated.
Landscape becomes refuge and offers hope of healing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have loved this book so much that I have read it three times over the years. Terry is brilliant. My Uncle taught her book in his class when he was a Professor at Brown... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Tam St. Armand
I am from the very spots in Utah that this author describes so eloquently. I loved reading about my old haunts. Read morePublished 2 months ago by M. DeAnn Morris
This is an outstanding read written by an excellent author! I promise "Refuge" will enrich your life.Published 2 months ago by ladyhawk
I had to read this book for one of my college classes. I can honestly say that it was the worst, most boring book that I have ever read. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Terry Tempest Williams’ novel Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place is a strong, woman-centric novel which conveys themes of love, loss, the environment, and what it... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I absolutely loved this book! The writing was fantastic, part lyrical, part natural science. This memoir focused on the rise of the Great Salt Lake and her mother's battle with... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Rachelle D. Lawrence
Beautifully written and insightful. Her linking the spoiling of the bird refuge to the pain in her own life is really touching.Published 5 months ago by deb