Also of interest... in storied waterways
Where the Water Goes
by David Owen (Riverhead, $28)
David Owen’s “wonderfully written” history of the Colorado River describes so many stresses on the river it may cause your head to hurt, said Bill Streever in The Wall Street Journal. “But it is a good headache, one that makes you a more informed person.” Among the New Yorker contributor’s more striking findings is that thanks to drought and a 168-year-old legal quirk, there is less water in the river than would be needed to meet all claims on it. Fortunately, some stakeholders are rising to the challenge.
by Jack E. Davis (Liveright, $30)
Jack Davis’ elegant 500-page history of life on the Gulf of Mexico is “destined to be admired and cited,” said William Cobb in The Dallas Morning News. The environmental historian begins his account in the Ice Age, focusing on how the world’s ninth-largest sea has nourished successive waves of coastal inhabitants, from paleo-Indians to today’s oil workers. Davis’ encyclopedic approach proves “a bit exhausting.” But his book is “chock-full” of fun facts, vivid storytelling, and “impeccable” prose.
The Water Kingdom
by Philip Ball (Univ. of Chicago, $27.50)
Philip Ball’s latest book “puts water back beautifully at the heart of China’s story,” said The Economist. Ball, a science writer, focuses on the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, showing how the two great, untamable waterways have shaped the nation and its art, literature, and politics. Like those rivers, the book meanders and “twists around in spirals,” but “that is its charm.” Strong as it is on current engineering challenges, it’s “at its most fascinating” when describing how rivers have shaped even China’s moral codes.
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes
by Dan Egan (Norton, $28)
Alas, the Great Lakes may never again be as great as they were 100 years ago, said Eva Holland in The Globe and Mail (Canada). As journalist Dan Egan reveals in this “vitally important” book, the lakes’ fragile ecosystem has been devastated by invasive species since the St. Lawrence Seaway increased ship traffic. “A lively writer,” Egan tells each invasion story through the eyes of people on the ground, creating “an accessible, even gripping narrative” about the unforeseen costs of human progress.