A concise and readable look at real-world environmental challenges.

CONFLUENCE

A RIVER, THE ENVIRONMENT, POLITICS, AND THE FATE OF ALL HUMANITY

How one American river, the Connecticut, became a focus for often misplaced environmental zeal, political maneuvers of the best and worst kind, hope and suspicion.

Filmmaker and author Tripp’s knowledge of, and fondness for, the embattled Connecticut River are more than evident in this compact book (and they’re endorsed in a foreword by his canoeing buddy, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean). In identifying the ecological dangers that threaten the river, Tripp (Father, Soldier, Son, 1997) considers equally the interests of those who are native to the headwaters and those, different indeed, who represent the industrial demands made on the water downstream. The root cause of trouble is common in the American experience: Dams are built to exploit rivers without regard for ultimate consequences. An avid fisherman, Tripp highlights the attempt to restore the endangered Atlantic salmon, which returns from the ocean to breed in fresh waters, as emblematic of the dilemma: Fishermen more interested in trout, for instance, now complain about overemphasis on the salmon. And while Tripp applauds the dedication of one scientist who snorkels with returning salmon just to get to know them better, he is aware of the plight of similarly threatened species that simply lack public appeal. A shortnose sturgeon can’t leap 12 feet into the air, he notes, and nobody is willing to spend thousands of dollars for the thrill of catching a dwarf wedge mussel. Yet even as cleanup efforts have made the river itself healthier, Tripp asserts, the economic slow death of rural America contributes to contentiousness among those who live in formerly agrarian headwater regions. Industrial lobbyists had little trouble spreading the idea among locals in several New England states that creation of a federally protected watershed area was part of a U.N. plot to take over the world.

A concise and readable look at real-world environmental challenges.

Pub Date: May 10, 2005

ISBN: 1-58642-088-7

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Steerforth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The book is not entirely negative; final chapters indicate roads of reversal, before it is too late!

SILENT SPRING

It should come as no surprise that the gifted author of The Sea Around Us and its successors can take another branch of science—that phase of biology indicated by the term ecology—and bring it so sharply into focus that any intelligent layman can understand what she is talking about.

Understand, yes, and shudder, for she has drawn a living portrait of what is happening to this balance nature has decreed in the science of life—and what man is doing (and has done) to destroy it and create a science of death. Death to our birds, to fish, to wild creatures of the woods—and, to a degree as yet undetermined, to man himself. World War II hastened the program by releasing lethal chemicals for destruction of insects that threatened man’s health and comfort, vegetation that needed quick disposal. The war against insects had been under way before, but the methods were relatively harmless to other than the insects under attack; the products non-chemical, sometimes even introduction of other insects, enemies of the ones under attack. But with chemicals—increasingly stronger, more potent, more varied, more dangerous—new chain reactions have set in. And ironically, the insects are winning the war, setting up immunities, and re-emerging, their natural enemies destroyed. The peril does not stop here. Waters, even to the underground water tables, are contaminated; soils are poisoned. The birds consume the poisons in their insect and earthworm diet; the cattle, in their fodder; the fish, in the waters and the food those waters provide. And humans? They drink the milk, eat the vegetables, the fish, the poultry. There is enough evidence to point to the far-reaching effects; but this is only the beginning,—in cancer, in liver disorders, in radiation perils…This is the horrifying story. It needed to be told—and by a scientist with a rare gift of communication and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Already the articles taken from the book for publication in The New Yorker are being widely discussed. Book-of-the-Month distribution in October will spread the message yet more widely.

The book is not entirely negative; final chapters indicate roads of reversal, before it is too late!  

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1962

ISBN: 061825305X

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1962

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Critics Circle Finalist

H IS FOR HAWK

An inspired, beautiful and absorbing account of a woman battling grief—with a goshawk.

Following the sudden death of her father, Macdonald (History and Philosophy/Cambridge Univ.; Falcon, 2006, etc.) tried staving off deep depression with a unique form of personal therapy: the purchase and training of an English goshawk, which she named Mabel. Although a trained falconer, the author chose a raptor both unfamiliar and unpredictable, a creature of mad confidence that became a means of working against madness. “The hawk was everything I wanted to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life,” she writes. As a devotee of birds of prey since girlhood, Macdonald knew the legends and the literature, particularly the cautionary example of The Once and Future King author T.H. White, whose 1951 book The Goshawk details his own painful battle to master his title subject. Macdonald dramatically parallels her own story with White’s, achieving a remarkable imaginative sympathy with the writer, a lonely, tormented homosexual fighting his own sadomasochistic demons. Even as she was learning from White’s mistakes, she found herself very much in his shoes, watching her life fall apart as the painfully slow bonding process with Mabel took over. Just how much do animals and humans have in common? The more Macdonald got to know her, the more Mabel confounded her notions about what the species was supposed to represent. Is a hawk a symbol of might or independence, or is that just our attempt to remake the animal world in our own image? Writing with breathless urgency that only rarely skirts the melodramatic, Macdonald broadens her scope well beyond herself to focus on the antagonism between people and the environment.

Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a classic in either genre.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0802123411

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more