Book ID: CBB001422365

The Land between the Lakes: A Geography of the Forgotten Future (2013)


Foresta, Ronald A. (Author)

University of Tennessee Press

Publication Date: 2013
Physical Details: 336 pp.; ill.; maps
Language: English

Between Barkley and Kentucky Lakes--two great, artificial bodies of water in western Tennessee and western Kentucky--lies a wooded land that looks from above like the flattened thumb of a green giant. Once a land of marginal farms and small settlements, this 240-square-mile peninsula, known as the Land Between the Lakes, has been a national recreation area for the last half-century. Its rolling, wooded hills and open bottomlands give the place charm but little majesty. The place swallows up its few campgrounds and visitors they attracts, creating a vacuous tranquility. In this volume, Foresta explores how this forgotten and bypassed region became a national recreation area. He uses its history to retrieve our old attitudes toward nature, progress, and personal development. He also uses its history to retrieve a vision of the future that rallied idealists, intellectuals, and even public officials to its banner. In the early 1960s, the Tennessee Valley Authority set out to create a great park for posterity at the Land Between the Lakes. The park was to host the vast stretches of leisure that wealthy, secure, and more equal Americans of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries would have at their disposal. It would be a place where such Americans could turn that leisure into happiness, psychic well-being, and strength of character. The TVA cleared the land of its inhabitants to create the park, removing people from their homes and severing their roots, thus effacing the history of the place. It then set about reshaping the land in the image of an anticipated future. But when that future never arrived, managers struggled to fit the place to the America that actually came into being. In the end they failed, leaving the Land Between the Lakes enveloped in a haunting sense of emptiness. A deft blend of environmental history, geography, politics, and cultural history, Land Between the Lakes demonstrates both the idealism of mid-twentieth-century planners and how quickly such idealism can fall out of alignment with the flow of history. In so doing it explores a forgotten vision of the future that was in many ways more appealing than the present that came into being in its place.

Reviewed By

Review Blum, Elizabeth D. (2015) Review of "The Land between the Lakes: A Geography of the Forgotten Future". Environmental History (pp. 523-525). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Diegues, Antonio Carlos
Davis, Timothy
Robinson, Michael H.
Heyman, Rich
Tal, Alon
Frank, Jerry J.
American Quarterly
Early American Studies
History and Technology
Environment and History
Acque Sotterranee
University Press of Kansas
Hucitec Annablume NUPAUB
Yale University Press
University of Washington Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
MIT Press
Recreation; play
Nature and its relationship to culture; human-nature relationships
Environmental history
Landscape architecture
Urban planning
Downing, Andrew Jackson
Olmsted. Frederick Law
Darwin, Charles Robert
United States
Rocky Mountains (U.S.)
Colorado (U.S.)
South America
Washington, D. C. (U.S.)
20th century
19th century
21st century
Tennessee Valley Authority

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