2017 READING CHALLENGE RECOMMENDATIONS
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Ambis Enterprises LLC
M and N Media
"Holding Back the Sea intimately and eloquently exposes the vulnerability of this stark land that spreads along the Gulf Coast, as it literally vanishes -- at rate of twenty-five square miles per year, an area the size of Manhattan -- so starved for lack of nutrients, so eroded away by ever more severe storms, and so dredged for canals that it is on the verge of being swallowed by the rising Gulf of Mexico. "Holding Back the Sea bears witness to an environmental crisis of staggering proportions that not only threatens this coast but has plunged the people who depend on it into a moral quagmire.
Christopher Hallowell uses this crisis as a window through which to clearly and comprehensively examine a cultural characteristic, or flaw, that Americans have historically exhibited: the reluctance to recognize the finiteness of nature -- as much a part of this country's history as is its people's independence -- while at the same time proclaiming their devotion to it. In Louisiana, this emotional split ofusing while abusing threatens the entire region's economic foundations and has profound implications for the rest of the country. Louisiana is not alone; its predicament stands beside an array of environmental case studies: clear-cutting in Virginia and Tennessee, exhausting water resources in the Southwest, polluting Chesapeake Bay, filling in wetlands around San Francisco Bay and Long Island Sound, and fouling the Great Lakes.
Through the varied use of narrative voice and rich description, Hallowell, a journalist, writer, and educator, brings into focus South Louisiana's dilemma through the people involved -- from engineers to politicians to scientists to fishermen -- to show both the marsh's and the people's fragility and vitality. There is no more important topic than the way we use nature and our natural resources and our willingness to defer to nature. "Holding Back the Sea is at the heart of that conversation.
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