Synopses & Reviews
After a two-decade absence, Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden returned to his small-town birthplace in the Pacific Northwest to follow the rise and fall of the West's most thoroughly conquered river.Harden's hometown, Moses Lake, Washington, could not have existed without massive irrigation schemes. His father, a Depression migrant trained as a welder, helped build dams and later worked at the secret Hanford plutonium plant. Now he and his neighbors, once considered patriots, stand accused of killing the river.As Blaine Harden traveled the Columbia-by barge, car, and sometimes on foot-his past seemed both foreign and familiar. A personal narrative of rediscovery joined a narrative of exploitation: of Native Americans, of endangered salmon, of nuclear waste, and of a once-wild river now tamed to puddled remains.Part history, part memoir, part lament, this is a brave and precise book, according to the New York Times Book Review. It must not have been easy for Blaine Harden to find himself turning his journalistic weapons against his own heritage, but he has done the conscience of his homeland a great service.
"A hard-nosed, clear-eyed, tough-minded dispatch on the sort of contentious subject that is almost always distorted by ideology or obscured by a fog of sentiment . . . . A precise and brave book." Hal Espen
"Superbly reported and written with clarity, insight, and great skill." --
After two decades, journalist Blaine Harden returned to his small-town birthplace in the Pacific Northwest to follow the rise and fall of the West's most thoroughly conquered river. To explore the Columbia River and befriend those who collaborated in its destruction, he traveled on a monstrous freight barge sailing west from Idaho to the Grand Coulee Dam, the site of the river's harnessing for the sake of jobs, electricity, and irrigation. is a searing personal narrative of rediscovery joined with a narrative of exploitation: of Native Americans, of endangered salmon, of nuclear waste, and of a once-wild river. Updated throughout, this edition features a new foreword and afterword.
About the Author
Blaine Harden is New York bureau chief for the Washington Post. He has been bureau chief for the Post in Eastern Europe and before that in sub-Saharan Africa. His book Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent (Norton) was hailed by William Shawcross as a "tour de force." Harden lives in Seattle, Washington.