Book review: 'River Republic' documents fall and rise of US rivers
“RIVER REPUBLIC: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers,” by Daniel McCool, Columbia University Press, $34.50, 385 pages (nf)
“River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers” by Daniel McCool takes the reader on a political, environmental, economic and poetic ride.
Written in an easy-to-read narrative style that is at times poetic, "River Republic" is also filled with facts and political analysis.
During the past 10 years, McCool has done extensive research and conducted personal interviews about river restoration across the United States. Personal stories along with stories collected from river restoration “instigators” add interest and personality to what might otherwise be a mere academic treatise.
“I’ve spent a large part of my life on rivers,” McCool said in a Columbia University Press interview, “and I use those experiences to enhance the narrative.”
This history of the changing philosophy of river use and management includes the dam building era of the 1940s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through present-day efforts to restore and clean up abused, misused and polluted waterways across the U.S.
McCool, who is a professor in the political science department of the University of Utah, where he is also director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program, is comprehensive in his coverage of government water projects, including those that have changed the rivers of the West — among them the CUP project and the Teton Dam in Rexburg, Idaho, which failed in 1976. The Teton Dam failure is cited as one of the incidents that called into question the practices of the Bureau of Reclamation.
"River Republic" is divided into three main sections: “The Fall,” “Dismemberment” and “Resurrection.” Illustrated with a map and a number of black and white photos, the book includes 64 pages of endnotes and an index. McCool occasionally quotes poetry to make his points.
He will be at a book signing at The King’s English Bookstore Thursday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m.
If you go ...
What: Daniel McCool reading and book signing
When: Thursday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Note: Presented with the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment
Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street, Springville. She enjoys creating multimedia projects. Her website is at dramaticdimensions.com.
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