Cold Running River
An intimate look at Michigan's scenic, trout-filled Pere Marquette River and the larger resource-management challenges it represents
At a mere glance, Cold Running River has obvious regional and environmental appeal, but it goes far beyond those interests. Besides the fact that the Pere Marquette is a well-known, National Scenic River, and besides the fact that ecosystem management is a monumentally important and far-reaching topic, this book happens to read like a cold river runs: fast, refreshing, exuberant. It is special because David Cassuto has a beautiful way with the English language. Only he can make a chapter on lamprey eel infestation a gripping read. His style is so affecting, so warm, so "Norman Macleany"—you might be sitting on the river's bank, hearing the locals tell their tales of the river's history.
That's what this book is: the river's history. It follows the miraculous course of the Pere Marquette: from its tumultuous glacial birth; to its devastation in the nineteenth century by unsustainable logging practices; to its recovery due to benign neglect. Cassuto approaches the river as both microcosm and metaphor; the controversies surrounding it speak to environmental and human dilemmas the world over.
Praise / Awards
"Cold Running River is a marvelous early entry in what one hopes will soon be a large literature: recovery studies. David Cassuto has taken a sober but deep look at his landscape and has much to teach us all."
"The Pere Marquette, the river of my childhood, has been through more torments than a river ever deserved. David Cassuto has done a fine job of telling how this beautiful watershed has found the friends it needs to heal itself. Indeed, his devoted work is part of that process."
"The account of the [Pere Marquette] river's tortured history, the conflicting modern voices and historical interests, the fact that the river, left to its own devices, essentially undid a century or more of pervasive abuse--these elements, in Cassuto's understated presentation, make this story a parable about the futility of humanity's notion that it can control a natural system."
--San Francisco Chronicle
". . . anyone who loves the Pere Marquette should read it and formulate their own conclusions about this precious resource."
--Leader (Federation of Fly Fishers)
"America is a mosaic of watersheds. What better way to understand the past and envision the future of our land than to study those watersheds, one by one? Here in David Cassuto's Cold Running River is a model of how to do that crucial work. Drawing on science and folklore and history, on the words of loggers and bureaucrats, on the lore of fishermen and fisherwomen, and on his own experience, Cassuto reads from the river truths we need to hear, truths about our use and abuse of the land, and about the land's resilience."
--Scott Russell Sanders
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