Monday, March 18, 2013

River Notes by Wade Davis


 “There can surely be no greater crime against nature than to cause the death of a river, and no greater gesture of restitution than to facilitate its regeneration.”
- Wade Davis, River Notes,  p 73.
  
Wade Davis is Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and author of numerous best-selling books, notably The Serpent and the Rainbow and Into the Silence. I stumbled upon River Notes quite by accident in Barnes & Noble and immediately bought it. Sometimes the best books are the ones that don’t get much national exposure. So it is with River Notes. This short but fine book is published by Island Press, a non-profit whose stated goal is “To reach targeted audiences...who can and will take action to protect the plants and animals that enrich our world, the ecosystems we need to survive, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.” Being familiar with Davis’ work, I find myself purchasing his books without hesitation and I am never sorry that I did. River Notes is a long essay that blends history, science and observation into a compelling study of one of America’s greatest natural resources. There are a few maps but no photographs, and as such that makes the prose all the more important. Wade Davis never disappoints. His writing is intelligent, often beautifully descriptive and imminently insightful. Also recommended: Grand Canyon: A River at Risk, text by Wade Davis with photographs by Chris Rainier.

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