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Visible Bones: Journeys Across Time in the Columbia River Country

Overview

In the vast Western territory defined by the Columbia River, historian and naturalist Jack Nisbet tracks the stories and meaning of remains such as a trilobite fossil that points to a tropical prehistoric ecology; the indelible stain of the smallpox pandemic that overcame local native peoples; the remains of Jaco Finlay, a trapper and scout from 200 years ago. The photographs, map, and Nisbet's poetic style create an inspired chronicle of this region.

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Visible Bones: Journeys Across Time in the Columbia River Country

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Overview

In the vast Western territory defined by the Columbia River, historian and naturalist Jack Nisbet tracks the stories and meaning of remains such as a trilobite fossil that points to a tropical prehistoric ecology; the indelible stain of the smallpox pandemic that overcame local native peoples; the remains of Jaco Finlay, a trapper and scout from 200 years ago. The photographs, map, and Nisbet's poetic style create an inspired chronicle of this region.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Nisbet makes the landscape come alive on many levels, historical, biological and cultural. The writing is high quality and engaging. It is clear he cares for and knows the place he writes about." —The Seattle Times "…[Nisbet's] passion and attention
Publishers Weekly
Whether wading through the waters of the Columbia River or walking through the woods, biologist and history teacher Nisbet finds the remains of the Pacific Northwest's past and goes to great lengths to explain how these remnants got there. Nisbet (Sources of the River; Purple Flat Top; etc.), whose blood races when he touches ancient things, finds a trilobite fossil and is flushed with warmth, despite being knee-deep in icy water. He begins with historical accounts of trilobites and salamanders, and quickly moves up the evolutionary ladder to mammoths and even humans. He catalogues numerous historical encounters with California condors, including an amusing one in which naturalist John Kirk Townsend winged a condor along the Willamette River in 1835. Shedding his clothes and gun, Townsend crossed the river and, completely naked. battled the condor, which had a 10-foot wingspan, until he managed to knock the bird unconscious by hitting it with a well-thrown stone. The author also reports humankind's less victorious encounters with nature, including the terrible toll that smallpox and other diseases took on the Native American tribes of the Northwest. Although Nisbet's histories can veer into litanies (he cites more than 20 condor encounters), his passion and attention to detail will make this an informative read for nature lovers and historians of the Pacific Northwest. B&w drawings, map not seen by PW. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570615245
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books
  • Publication date: 5/10/2007
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.43 (h) x 0.51 (d)

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  • Posted November 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Brought tears to my eyes

    My grandmother, Alice Ignace, was captured by the author so true and correct. I cried when I first read it. The description of the mountains and my grandmother walking through the grass brought back so many memories missed so dearly since she is no longer with us. I hope everyone who reads this books enjoys it as much as I have.

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    Posted July 22, 2009

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