Book ID: CBB302245226

The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea (2017)

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Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for History Winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction A National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction Finalist A New York Times Notable Book of 2017 One of the Washington Post's Best Books of the YearIn this “cri de coeur about the Gulf’s environmental ruin” (New York Times), “Davis has written a beautiful homage to a neglected sea” (front page, New York Times Book Review).When painter Winslow Homer first sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, he was struck by its "special kind of providence." Indeed, the Gulf presented itself as America’s sea―bound by geography, culture, and tradition to the national experience―and yet, there has never been a comprehensive history of the Gulf until now. And so, in this rich and original work that explores the Gulf through our human connection with the sea, environmental historian Jack E. Davis finally places this exceptional region into the American mythos in a sweeping history that extends from the Pleistocene age to the twenty-first century.Significant beyond tragic oil spills and hurricanes, the Gulf has historically been one of the world's most bounteous marine environments, supporting human life for millennia. Davis starts from the premise that nature lies at the center of human existence, and takes readers on a compelling and, at times, wrenching journey from the Florida Keys to the Texas Rio Grande, along marshy shorelines and majestic estuarine bays, profoundly beautiful and life-giving, though fated to exploitation by esurient oil men and real-estate developers.Rich in vivid, previously untold stories, The Gulf tells the larger narrative of the American Sea―from the sportfish that brought the earliest tourists to Gulf shores to Hollywood’s engagement with the first offshore oil wells―as it inspired and empowered, sometimes to its own detriment, the ethnically diverse groups of a growing nation. Davis' pageant of historical characters is vast, including: the presidents who directed western expansion toward its shores, the New England fishers who introduced their own distinct skills to the region, and the industries and big agriculture that sent their contamination downstream into the estuarine wonderland. Nor does Davis neglect the colorfully idiosyncratic individuals: the Tabasco king who devoted his life to wildlife conservation, the Texas shrimper who gave hers to clean water and public health, as well as the New York architect who hooked the “big one” that set the sportfishing world on fire.Ultimately, Davis reminds us that amidst the ruin, beauty awaits its return, as the Gulf is, and has always been, an ongoing story. Sensitive to the imminent effects of climate change, and to the difficult task of rectifying grievous assaults of recent centuries, The Gulf suggests how a penetrating examination of a single region's history can inform the country's path ahead. 26 illustrations

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Reviewed By

Review Donald Worster (July 2019) Review of "The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea". Environmental History (pp. 597-602). unapi

Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB302245226/

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Authors & Contributors
Marcus, Alan I.
Collis Greene, Alison
Brain, Stephen C.
Evans, Sterling
Warren, James Perrin
Kirby, Jack Temple
Journals
The Bridge: Journal of the National Academy of Engineering
History and Technology
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Publishers
Louisiana State University Press
University of Georgia Press
University of North Carolina Press
Oxford University Press
Texas A&M University Press
University of Chicago Press
Concepts
Nature and its relationship to culture; human-nature relationships
Natural history
Petroleum industry
Environmentalism
Environmental sciences
Nature
People
Burroughs, John
Pinchot, Gifford
Muir, John
Jefferson, Thomas
Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc de
Thoreau, Henry David
Places
Gulf of Mexico
United States
Southern states (U.S.)
Louisiana (U.S.)
Spain
France
Times
20th century
19th century
18th century
21st century
20th century, late
20th century, early
Institutions
United States. National Park Service
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers
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