Big Muddy Blues: True Tales and Twisted Politics Along Lewis and Clark's Missouri River [NOOK Book]

Overview


America's Missouri River may be the nation's longest and most historically significant river, encompassing many of America's natural wonders between Missouri and Montana, draining almost 600,000 square miles in ten states and part of Canada, and, after Lewis and Clark's expedition 200 years ago, opening the West to a frenzied rush of expansion.

But the Missouri is also the site of a vast, politically driven drama. It tops a list of emerging ...
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Big Muddy Blues: True Tales and Twisted Politics Along Lewis and Clark's Missouri River

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Overview


America's Missouri River may be the nation's longest and most historically significant river, encompassing many of America's natural wonders between Missouri and Montana, draining almost 600,000 square miles in ten states and part of Canada, and, after Lewis and Clark's expedition 200 years ago, opening the West to a frenzied rush of expansion.

But the Missouri is also the site of a vast, politically driven drama. It tops a list of emerging big-stakes river wars around the country that pit conservation, development, farm, barge, American Indian, and government interests against one another in clashes made even more complicated by the scarcity of water in many river basin states.

In Big Muddy Blues, veteran journalist Bill Lambrecht uses the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's epic adventure west as a lens to show the other side of the story: what's been lost over 200 years. And the losses, on top of the 120 miles cut off the river by Army Corps stabilization efforts, aren't slight. Dependent on every word uttered in courtrooms and legislatures for their futures are more than 80 rare and endangered species, the family farms that require a stabilized river, the barges of shippers that require a heavier flow, and dozens if not hundreds of sacred Native American burial grounds.

Running through it all is the water--more than 2,300 miles of it--that slakes the thirst of people in one-sixth of the nation and has, in the last few hundred years, been home to Native Americans, explorers, and settlers; river pirates, shipwrecks, and steamboats; and farmers, conservationists, and the Army. This is the story of "Big Muddy," of its influence on the formation and stability of our nation and of its place in the center of an escalating river war that will set the stage for water wars in the decades to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While the Missouri is not as muddy as it was before it was dammed, straightened, channelized and turned into what environmentalists call the world's biggest barge ditch, the political wranglings surrounding it are murky indeed. Journalist Lambrecht (Dinner at the New Gene Cafe) deftly untangles the confrontation between an alliance of farmers, barge operators and real estate developers who want the river managed for industrial convenience, and environmentalists and recreation and tourist interests who want to restore some of its meanderings and seasonal flows and revive floodplain ecosystems. The controversy also pits the Army Corps of Engineers, custodian of dams and canals, against the Fish and Wildlife Service, guardian of endangered species. Meanwhile, the upriver Dakotans and downriver Missourians squabble over divvying up the river's waters. Lambrecht tells the story through vivid, evenhanded profiles of the individuals-farmers, resort owners, biologists, tribal leaders, politicians-caught up in it, while chronicling the battle over the river's fate from the flood-control projects of the 1930s to the congressional and court battles of recent years. Along the way, he sprinkles in engaging sidebars on Missouri river lore and legend. The result is a probing, highly readable account of "an enslaved river impatient to be free." Photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A poignant chronicle of an emblematic American river, mistreated and abused over the generations but never worse than today. The Missouri River drains the largest expanse of land of any river in the United States, embracing 5,761 miles across eight states-a full sixth of the nation. Yet, writes St. Louis Post-Dispatch correspondent Lambrecht (Dinner at the New Gene Cafe, 2001), the nation seems to have forgotten all about it. And not with benign neglect: The Missouri begins, tainted by E. coli, in a Montana valley whose principal industry has recently applied to "burn scrap tires-75 per hour, 1,800 per day, 657,000 per year." Things are no better, Lambrecht records, at the river's terminus near St. Louis, where the Lewis and Clark expedition had its start; its camp was recently reconstructed to honor the bicentennial of the Corps of Discovery, located "just across the highway from a Superfund toxic waste pile leaching heavy metal." So it is, Lambrecht dourly notes, that America's great river road to the west has its beginning and ending in pollution, a situation not likely to improve during what he unhesitatingly depicts as an environment-destroying presidential administration headed by men who somehow turned Missouri from blue state to red over a mere four years-but four years marked by increasing controversy over how to maintain and restore the river, and by lawsuits protecting species that, it seems, many Missourians were glad to do without. Lambrecht offers a strong if somewhat depressing account of the losses sustained not only by the river but also by the environmentalists committed to protecting it, and he hints that darker times may be ahead as states within the drainage wageever-harder battles for control of ever-larger shares of water, North Dakota being a case in point. A lucid, welcome work of environmental investigation and-though Lambrecht, ever the journalist, protests otherwise-advocacy, worthy of a place alongside Philip Fradkin's A River No More, Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert and other modern treatises on the destruction of America's waters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466879973
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 325,179
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Bill Lambrecht has been a Washington correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since 1984. His journalism prizes include the Sigma Delta Chi Award and three Raymond Clapper Awards. He is the author of Dinner at the New Gene Café, and he lives near Annapolis, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

1 Our stake in America's river west 1
2 The strong brown god 9
3 Two-faced river 27
4 Rolling on the river 45
5 1944 : when history changes course 69
6 Species on the brink 87
7 In a wicked sticky dilemma 101
8 Birds versus barges 117
9 Big muddy politics 137
10 Broken trust I : the flood 157
11 Broken trust II : the skulls of white swan 177
12 Water wars 193
13 One more river to boss 215
14 Learning to love Dr. Strangelove's canal 229
15 At the headwaters : choosing a new fork 251
16 The shifting balance 277
App. A Early journeys 309
App. B Native Americans and the law 313
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