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The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and Americaby H Bruce Franklin
Synopses & Reviews
In this brilliant portrait of the oceans unlikely hero, H. Bruce Franklin shows how menhaden have shaped Americas national—and natural—history, and why reckless overfishing now threatens their place in both. Since Native Americans began using menhaden as fertilizer, this amazing fish has greased the wheels of U.S. agriculture and industry. By the mid-1870s, menhaden had replaced whales as a principal source of industrial lubricant, with hundreds of ships and dozens of factories along the eastern seaboard working feverishly to produce fish oil. Since the Civil War, menhaden have provided the largest catch of any American fishery. Today, one company—Omega Protein—has a monopoly on the menhaden reduction industry.” Every year it sweeps billions of fish from the sea, grinds them up, and turns them into animal feed, fertilizer, and oil used in everything from linoleum to health-food supplements.
The massive harvest wouldnt be such a problem if menhaden were only good for making lipstick and soap. But they are crucial to the diet of bigger fish and they filter the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, playing an essential dual role in marine ecology perhaps unmatched anywhere on the planet. As their numbers have plummeted, fish and birds dependent on them have been decimatedand toxic algae have begun to choke our bays and seas. In Franklins vibrant prose, the decline of a once ubiquitous fish becomes an adventure story, an exploration of the U.S. political economy, a groundbreaking history of Americas emerging ecological consciousness, and an inspiring vision of a growing alliance between environmentalists and recreational anglers.
In this brilliant portrait of the oceans unlikely hero, H. Bruce Franklin shows how menhaden have shaped Americas natural—and national—history, and why a single company now threatens their crucial ecological mission. The same pudgy little fish that once saved the Pilgrims from starvation and helped power the industrial revolution are today being ground up by the billions and turned into everything from linoleum to lipstick. The massive harvest isnt just devastating one fish, but the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In Franklins vibrant prose, the menhadens decline becomes an adventure story, an exciting exploration of American history, and an inspiring call to action.
H. Bruce Franklin shows how menhaden have shaped America's national-and natural-history, and why reckless over-fishing now threatens their place in both.
About the Author
H. Bruce Franklin is the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. He has authored or edited eighteen books, including War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination, M.I.A. or Mythmaking in America, Prison Writing in Twentieth-Century America, and Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. Franklin has lectured widely and his hundreds of articles and reviews have appeared in publications including The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Science, The Nation, and Discover.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Now You See Them, Now You Don't
Chapter 2. The New World of Fish
Chapter 3. Meeting Menhaden: In Our World and Theirs
Chapter 4. Whales, Menhaden, and Industrialized Fishing
Chapter 5. The Death of Fish and the Birth of Ecology
Chapter 6. At War with Menhaden
Chapter 7. Ecological Catastrophes
Chapter 8. Collision Courses
Chapter 9. The Fish of the Future?
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History and Social Science » US History » General