An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World

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Overview

Anders Halverson provides an exhaustively researched and grippingly rendered account of the rainbow trout and why it has become the most commonly stocked and controversial freshwater fish in the United States. Discovered in the remote waters of northern California, rainbow trout have been artificially propagated and distributed for more than 130 years by government officials eager to present Americans with an opportunity to get back to nature by going fishing. Proudly dubbed “an entirely synthetic fish” by fisheries managers, the rainbow trout has been introduced into every state and province in the United States and Canada and to every continent except Antarctica, often with devastating effects on the native fauna. Halverson examines the paradoxes and reveals a range of characters, from nineteenth-century boosters who believed rainbows could be the saviors of democracy to twenty-first-century biologists who now seek to eradicate them from waters around the globe. Ultimately, the story of the rainbow trout is the story of our relationship with the natural world—how it has changed and how it startlingly has not.

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Editorial Reviews

Ken Ringle
…history, as we know but seldom remember, is often about unintended consequences, and few better examples can be cited than the story told in An Entirely Synthetic Fish, Anders Halverson's chronicle of how our best-intentioned efforts to widen and democratize the sport of trout fishing compromised mountain streams and lakes in often subtle but disturbing ways…Yet this is not one of those whiny, hand-wringing catalogs of environmental gloom and doom. With prose as engaging as it is thoughtful, Halverson has crafted an absorbing cautionary tale of ecological trial and error, documenting our tardy but increasing understanding of biological interdependence and its immeasurable value.
—The Washington Post
Chronicle Review

“Halverson''s book is a microhistory, an examination of America''s involvement with a favored fish that sheds light on broader truths regarding our recent relationship with the natural world.”--Chronicle Review

American Angler

“Make no mistake, this book is a major event in the history of angling and ecological analysis. It needs to become the stuff of every angler’s conversation and practice. And it’s such a pleasure to read!”--Gordon Wickstrom, American Angler

— Gordon Wickstrom

Science

“Halverson entertainingly introduces some of the most tangled questions in conservation biology: What is a species? What is native? What is natural? What is wild?”--Jared Farmer, Science

— Jared Farmer

California Fly Fisher

“A well-paced, completely absorbing tale of how man and trout have changed the landscape of the planet.”--Ralph Cutter, California Fly Fisher

— Ralph Cutter

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Intelligent, fair-minded and uncommonly readable."--Rob Oden, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

— Rob Oden

Washington Post

“With prose as engaging as it is thoughtful, Halverson has crafted an absorbing cautionary tale of ecological trial and error, documenting our tardy but increasing understanding of biological interdependence and its immeasurable value.”--Washington Post

National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation

Winner of the 2010 National Outdoor Book Award in the Natural History Literature category, as given by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University

— National Outdoor Book Award in the Natural History Literature category

The Trout Underground

"Halverson''s account of the Green River project was gripping, and in fact, read a lot like a novel (I half-expected Bond to show up)."--Tom Chandler, The Trout Underground

— Tom Chandler

Natural History

"Fly fishing for trout retains its image as a clean, low-impact outdoor activity. Rightly so, perhaps, but after reading Halverson’s book, you will think twice about how close to nature you are when you cast that line out over a rocky pool."—Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History

— Laurence A. Marschall

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300140880
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 219,547
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Anders Halverson is a journalist with a Ph.D. in aquatic ecology from Yale University. He lives in Boulder, CO.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Patricia Nelson Limerick Limerick, Patricia Nelson

1 A Less Bold and Spirited Nation 1

2 Essentially a National Matter 12

3 Let the Best Fish Win 28

4 As Many Different States as Possible 36

5 A New Variety of Trout 48

6 Define Me a Gentleman 58

7 Paying Customers and Hatchery Product 76

8 A Full-Scale Military Operation 94

9 Money Makes a Way 114

10 The Way of the Passenger Pigeon 129

11 A Single New Mongrel Species 145

12 It Doesn't Do Any Good 165

Epilogue The Last Generation of Troutfishers 184

Notes 189

Bibliography 211

Index 245

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Informative and Entertaining

    This made for an easy and joyful read. I was left feeling it ended too soon. The issues are as relevant today as they were then and will be for years to come. Anders offers an impartial wide view of the never ending touch and go relationship between man and this fabled fish. Add it to your collection, knowledge and conversations.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 13, 2010

    A must read for trout anglers!

    Most Fly Fishers (fisherman) enjoy the picking the fly on the lightest possible rod and experience the thrill of a big trout pulling all parts of the tackle to its extreme. But most don't know that the rainbow that is pulling comes from thousand of miles away and has been nurtured in a hatchery by professionals that are not aware of the long history themselves of this pacific rim fish.

    This book reveals the sometimes esoteric beginnings of American trout hatcheries and how a single breed has changed the way we enjoy and view fishing. A must read for anyone who truly wants to know the whole truth behind taxpayers and license purchasers money that goes to trout.

    The author is thoroughly entertaining revealing larger than life characters that form our national thinking and it is done on less than 185 pages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2013

    Azulfire

    FOR THE MIP FANS!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    Yep write

    Plz

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    Me

    I do!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    A Dull Day in Ponyville: Chapter Four

    Rainbow Dash laid stretched out on the bench. She waited for the signal from Spike. Have they found Discord yet? she thought. As she thought this, she saw the bushes rustle, and Rarity appeared, shaking her hooves. "Ugh these stupid thorns, always getting caught in my hooves," she complained. "What are you doing here?" Rainbow Dash said. "I thought you were with the others to find Discord." "I told them the forest wasn't my kind of place, so they told me to come back here and keep you company," Rarity said. She started to try and get the thorns out of her hooves, yelping in pain now and then. Rainbow Dash snickered each time she yelped. "Rainbow Dash it's not funny!" Rarity whined. She laughed at Rarity's appauled face. Then, they hear Spike's shout of, "Rainbow!" Rainbow Dash shooted up into the air. She started gathering speed. She was at top speed for a Sonic Rainboom, but she flew faster still. She felt the Sonic Rainboom go from rounded at her hooves to pointed. Her cheeks are being pulled back by the wind. She felt static crackle around her then, BOOM!!! A loud boom sounds and a circular rainbow spreads across the sky. Rainbow Dash looked down at Ponyville and saw the color return as the rainbow swept over it. She landed and the others were there. "Way to go, Rainbow Dash!" Twilight said. "We should have a party!" Pinkie Pie shouted. "This is wonderful. Now i can pick out cloths that don't have ugly colors," Rarity said, sounding relieved. They all look at Rarity and burst out laughing, even Rarity herself. "Now THAT really put the 'rainbow' in 'Rainbow Dash'!" Rainbow Dash said, and they all laugh again. ~The end! Next I might write a fanfic about Rarity. Who wants me to?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    Apprentices den

    Fishclan

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2012

    Recomendend

    While on some level not as comprehensive as I had hoped it was certainly very informative. The history of these ubiquitous fish is a complete mystery to so many of us and our driving desire to fish for this “synthetic” fish exists without many of us understanding why. Very entertaining and quick read that I am sure I will reference for years to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    Amazing Book

    I'll never look at rainbow trout, or even the streams where they now live, the same way again.
    This book tells an incredible story about these fish--fish that I had taken for granted until now. And it is so well written. A must read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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