Both troubling and encouraging, a well-told tale of environmental activism and citizen action.

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RECOVERING A LOST RIVER

REMOVING DAMS, REWILDING SALMON, REVITALIZING COMMUNITIES

In his debut, environmental journalist Hawley describes the populist movement to remove federally funded hydroelectric dams from America’s waterways and the entrenched interests resisting this movement.

Today, writes the author, the “oceanward progress of six hundred thousand linear miles of brook, creek, stream, and river has been retarded by the construction of 75,000 dams.” Once touted as environmentally safe and economically beneficial, hydroelectric dams, particularly in the American West, have proven to be ecological disasters. Primarily focusing on efforts to remove four dams from the Snake River, a part of the Columbia River basin in the Northwest, Hawley details the damage. He begins with salmon. By the next century, they may be extinct, in large part because they cannot navigate dammed rivers like the Snake to return to their spawning grounds. In turn, fewer and fewer salmon make their way back down the Columbia to Washington’s Puget Sound to provide food for orca whales. Also endangered are the fishing industry, tourism and the traditional, salmon-centered way of life of Indian tribes such as the Nez Perce. Whole towns such as Lewiston, Idaho—situated between the Snake and Clearwater rivers—face inundation as dams lead to the buildup of silt in the rivers, raising the water level to dangerous heights. Despite arduous effort by civic and environmental groups, the dams remain. The reason for this, argues Hawley, is the power of utility companies and their allies among innumerable federal agencies who derive short-run benefit from building, maintaining and operating these dams. A fascinating though confusing section of the book follows the machinations of these agencies and their allies as they fight to save their dams. Gradually, dam removal as a social movement is growing, and the positive results of removal can be seen along the Kennebec River in southern Maine. Fish and other wildlife have returned, as have outdoors enthusiasts, and river towns have returned to economic vitality.

Both troubling and encouraging, a well-told tale of environmental activism and citizen action.

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0471-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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

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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

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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