The Control of Nature by John McPhee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, if you have read my reviews, you know my middle-class connection to the New Yorker and its writers. The majority of my favorites wrote for the magazine (or currently write for it) and I assume this has to do with my teen discovery of the Algonquin Circle and its writers, and their politics and way of life.
So, no surprise that John McPhee is another favorite..
I think I have read all of his books, and this one is obviously dear to my brain and heart, as it does an admirable job explaining the relationship of the Atchafalaya and the Mississippi rivers, and the future of regions that bend nature to its control.
You'll see my review of John Barry's Rising Tide in my list which to me is the best work on the control of the Mississippi River.
So read that if you want to know what's happening in the middle of the country (and remind yourself why New Orleans must exist on one level- to maintain control and use of the river. You're welcome.)
And then take time to learn about the Atchafalaya Basin. In order to understand what the life of the Mississippi is about, you have to understand its sister, the Atchafalaya River. Our state IS more than New Orleans; it's a system of waterways and sustainable entrepreneurs that use the waterways to supply the shipping and the fisheries that sustain much of the entire U.S.
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Here is a direct link to the article: article in New Yorker
Here is the part that has stuck in my mind all of these years and is there again now:
“Those professors at L.S.U. say that whatever we do we’re going to lose the system,” he remarked one day at Old River, and, after a pause, added, “Maybe they’re right.” His voice had the sound of water over rock. In pitch, it was lower than a helicon tuba. Better to hear him indoors, in his operations office, away from the structure’s competing thunders. “Maybe they’re right,” he repeated. “We feel that we can hold the river. We’re going to try. Whenever you try to control nature, you’ve got one strike against you.”