Synopses & Reviews
Chetham's elegiac book about the towns along the banks of the Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River was written on the very eve of their destruction. After great controversy, the Chinese government has begun construction of the world's largest hydroelectric dam in the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze, a place renowned for its beauty. For over two thousand years, the Yangtze has been the great transport route linking the coast with the west and southwest and providing irrigation for the farms that fed China. Once the dam is completed in 2009, the water level will rise as much as 350 feet in a hundred-mile stretch of the river. The water will submerge over a dozen large cities, almost 1,500 villages and towns, and innumerable historical and cultural sites. Over a million people are being moved, voluntarily or otherwise, altering not only their lives, but the lives of a multitude of others whose existence is intertwined with the river. Before the Deluge
captures a sense of the daily life, traditions and history of the people who live along the Upper Yangtze's Three Gorges area. It chronicles the region's past and present with an eye on the disruption of an existing way of life. Perhaps most importantly, it captures a world that is rapidly vanishing under the rushing waters of one of the world's largest rivers.
A timely and compelling portrait of the quickly vanishing world of the Yangtze River. After great controversy, the Chinese government began construction of the world's largest hydroelectric dam in the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze River. The dam will raise the river level hundreds of feet and inundate close to a thousand villages, cities, and towns, requiring the relocation of more than a million people. Deirdre Chetham, a guide and lecturer on the Yangtze since 1982, paints a compelling portrait of this vanishing world in the remote mountainous region of the upper Yangtze and documents a civilization that will eventually cease to exist.
A timely and compelling portrait of a world, quickly vanishing under the rising waters of the Yangtze River.
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About the Author
Deirdre Chetham has been a frequent traveler on the Yangtze River for almost twenty years. She has been the executive director of the Harvard University Asia Center since 1997, and until 2000 served concurrently as the executive director of Harvard's Fairbank Center for East Asian Research. Prior to this, she spent a decade as a U.S. foreign service officer, with assignments in Beijing, East Berlin, and on the Burma desk in Washington D.C. Deirdre Chetham has been a contributor the National Geographic News Service, Gemini News Service in London, and Radio Netherlands International.
Table of Contents
Introduction * The Towns: Shibao Block, Wushan, and Fengjie * History and Myth * Traditional Life * Outsiders on the River * War Along the Yangtze * Taming and Exploiting the River * New Life Along the River * The Coming Flood: The Three Gorges Dam and the Future