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Paperback Northwest Passage Book

ISBN: 0295975466

ISBN13: 9780295975467

Northwest Passage

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Nothwest Passage: The Great Columbia River

The shipping was fairly fast. The book was in mint condition.

Exceptional history, balanced perspective

I have taught Pacific Northwest History at high school and college levels, and found this book one of the best regional histories published. Although focused on the Columbia River, it presents more of the general history of the interior Northwest (east of the Interstate 5 corridor) than any other history of the region. Of course, the Columbia River and its tributaries are central to Northwest history from the fish that archaeologists discovered to be the core of Kennewick Man's diet to the present Kaiser Steelworkers lockout and the controversy over Snake River dams.The story of human modification of the Columbia River is one of heroism and greed, boom and bust, promotion and fraud, and the winners and losers that go along with the competition among interest groups. Dietrich tells the story with drama, fairness to competing interests, and the kind of focus that requires a point of view. His history is honest, rather than objective; committed, rather than unbiased. It is rich in details, but doesn't lose sight of the big picture. This is newspaper-style feature writing at its best.At the core of this book is a story of a peoples' faith in progress, the achievement this faith enabled, and the blind spots this faith nurtured. Immense benefits and enormous failures have resulted from this faith. Now, as Dietrich makes clear, we must reexamine our basic assumptions and redetermine our priorities.Not every reader will agree with Dietrich's priorities and perspectives, but few can identify critical points that he missed. His facts are sound. My only complaint is that too little accommodation is made for readers who want to track down and verify some of his statements of fact. The book has a bibliography and index, but no endnotes. It is published by a university press, but lacks the usual scholarly apparatus.

A fascinating and well-told regional history

I knew next to nothing about the Pacific Northwest, having only spent a few days there as a kid for the Spokane World's Fair. William Dietrich's Northwest Passage: The Great Columbia River filled much of my knowledge gap with a fascinating and well-told story. Dietrich recounts the history of the Columbia, from its original creation through geologic forces and its discovery by Lewis and Clark and other explorers, to development of the river and the region by forestry, fishing, and industrial interests, harnessing of the river through multiple dams (including the huge Grand Coulee dam), decimation of the salmon population and later attempts by environmental and Native American interests to revive the salmons, and turf wars between various interest groups. Dietrich's book is extremely well researched and annotated, but reads not like laborious scholarship but like a labor of love. He clearly loves the region he writes about and is troubled by its many changes; he conveys both his enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge through this graceful book.

Great summary of history and river uses.

Really enjoyed reading the numerous stories of Columbia River history and the competing uses of the river. Towards the end the author gets a little too dramatic about wild salmon and native Americans and seems to lose the balanced views presented thoughout most of the book.
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