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Against the Tide: The Battle for America's Beaches


Against the Tide: The Battle for America's Beaches Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Americans love to colonize their beaches. But when storms threaten, high-ticket beachfront construction invariably takes precedence over coastal environmental concerns — we rescue the buildings, not the beaches. As Cornelia Dean explains in Against the Tide, this pattern is leading to the rapid destruction of our coast. But her eloquent account also offers sound advice for salvaging the stretches of pristine American shore that remain.

The story begins with the tale of the devastating hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, in 1900 — the deadliest natural disaster in American history, which killed some six thousand people. Misguided residents constructed a wall to prevent another tragedy, but the barrier ruined the beach and ultimately destroyed the town's booming resort business.

From harrowing accounts of natural disasters to lucid ecological explanations of natural coastal processes, from reports of human interference and construction on the shore to clear-eyed elucidation of public policy and conservation interests, this book illustrates in rich detail the conflicting interests, short-term responses, and long-range imperatives that have been the hallmarks of America's love affair with her coast.

Intriguing observations about America's beaches, past and present, include discussions of Hurricane Andrew's assault on the Gulf Coast, the 1962 northeaster that ravaged one thousand miles of the Atlantic shore, the beleaguered beaches of New Jersey and North Carolina's rapidly vanishing Outer Banks, and the sand-starved coast of southern California. Dean provides dozens of examples of human attempts to tame the ocean — as well as a wealth of lucid descriptions of the ocean's counterattack. Readers will appreciate Against the Tide's painless course in coastal processes and new perspective on the beach.

Book News Annotation:

Science editor for the New York Times Dean warns beach lovers and environmentalists that US beaches are vanishing. She traces the history and reviews the science of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts with a particular focus on hurricanes and other disasters; then describes how they are being squeezed between the rising sea level and development. She dismisses most remedies as doing more harm than good, and offers advice for salvaging what remains.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


The Science Editor of the New York Times issues a call to arms for beach lovers and environmentalists in a beautifully written book that covers the ecology of the coast, as well as the hubris-filled history of Americans' efforts to hold back the sea.


Includes bibliographical references (p. [251]-266) and index.

Product Details

Dean, Cornelia
Columbia University Press
New York :
United states
Real Estate
Environmental Science
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Natural Disasters
Oceans & Seas
Beach erosion
Coast changes
Coastal zone management -- United States.
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Coast changes -- United States.
Ecosystems & Habitats - Oceans & Seas
Environmental Studies-Environment
Publication Date:
9.42x6.74x.93 in. 1.19 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Ocean and Marine Biology
Science and Mathematics » Oceanography » Coasts
Science and Mathematics » Oceanography » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics

Against the Tide: The Battle for America's Beaches Used Hardcover
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Product details 296 pages Columbia University Press - English 9780231084185 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The Science Editor of the New York Times issues a call to arms for beach lovers and environmentalists in a beautifully written book that covers the ecology of the coast, as well as the hubris-filled history of Americans' efforts to hold back the sea.
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