Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the 2007 Washington State Book Award for General Nonfiction
Finalist in the Western Writers of America 2007 Spur Award competition for the Best Western Nonfiction - Contemporary category
The Columbia River of today bears little resemblance to the river Native peoples and settlers knew in the early twentieth century. Between 1933 and 1984, an unparalleled fervor of engineering transformed much of the river into a series of large reservoirs contained by fourteen hydroelectric dams. While many mourned the loss of the freeflowing river, others embraced a newly tamed waterway that could control floods, irrigate desert lands, and supply electrical power for the growing region.
River of Memory honors a place and time now gone from view. It restores an unfettered Columbia through more than ninety historical photographs that capture the river as it once appeared. This extraordinary visual record is complemented with the words of early explorers, surveyors, and naturalists who wrote about specific places along the river and with new works by contemporary American and Canadian writers and poets.
Organized to carry the reader from the mouth of the Columbia where it enters the ocean to its source in eastern British Columbia, the narrative follows the natural history of the river through the archetypal journey of salmon returning to the river's headwaters in Columbia Lake. Introducing each section are illustrations of salmon and other indigenous fish by artists Joseph Tomelleri and Dan McConnell.
River of Memory encourages readers to linger along the river's shores and spend time reflecting on its dramatic mountain and plateau landscapes. It fosters connections between the river's natural and human histories through the words of the distinguished writers represented throughout, including Jeannette Armstrong, Gloria Bird, Peter Christensen, Tim McNulty, Kathleen Dean Moore, Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, Theodore Roethke, Kim Stafford, William Stafford, Robert Sund, David Wagoner, Elizabeth Woody, and many more.