A Doubtful River available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
- University of Nevada Press
In A Doubtful River, photographers Robert Dawson and Peter Goin and essayist Mary Webb explore the ways the Truckee's multifarious users relate to the region’s aridity and the precious waters of the river. Dawson’s and Goin’s eloquent photographs record unforgettable images of the Truckee River’s course from the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada to desert-bound Pyramid Lake and the ways the river and the land beside it have been used and reshaped by human needs, greed, and carelessness. Webb’s essays offer a moving verbal counterpoint, focusing on the people who depend on and adjudicate the river’s water. The sum of the elements of this book is a memorable picture of the complexity of water allocation in a region where conflicting traditions about the uses of the land and its resources, a rapidly growing population, and limited supply make water the most precious commodity of all.
About the Author
vRobert Dawson is a gifted photographer of the American West. His photographs have been recognized by a Visual Artists Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Ruttenberg Fellowship from The Friends of Photography, a Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (with Gray Brechin) and several other major grants, awards, and fellowships. He has published several books.
He is founder and co-director with his wife, Ellen Manchester, of the Water in the West Project, a large-scale collaboration with several other photographers and advisors. Work from the project was published in A River Too Far: The Past and Future of the Arid West (University of Nevada Press, 1991) and Arid Waters: Photographs From the Water in the West Project (University of Nevada Press, 1992). An archive of the Water in the West project is in the permanent collection of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Dawson's photographs are in several other permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
A native of Sacramento, California, Dawson received his B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his M.A. from San Francisco State University. He is currently an instructor of photography at Stanford University and San Jose State University. He resides in San Francisco with his wife and son.
Peter Goin is a Foundation Professor of Art in photography and videography at the University of Nevada, Reno. His photographs have been exhibited in more than fifty museums nationally and internationally, and he is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Goin's video work has earned him an EMMY nomination as well as the Best Experimental Video Award at the 2001 New York International Film & Video Festival. At the turn of the new century, he was awarded the Governor’s Millennium Award for Excellence in the Arts. Peter Goin is the author, co-author, or editor of several books including Nuclear Landscapes (1991), Stopping Time: A Rephotographic Survey of Lake Tahoe (1992), Arid Waters: Photographs from the Water in the West Project (1992), Humanature (1996),A Doubtful River (2000), Changing Mines in America (2004), and Black Rock (2005). Please visit Peter Goin's website: www.petergoin.com
Mary Webb teaches writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. She received her M.A. in English (summa cum laude) from Northern Arizona University.
What People are Saying About This
No array of statistics can convey with such dazzling force the living conundrums of a great Western river and its people as do these startling photographic images and personal histories. A Doubtful River is an interdisciplinary model of natural history that every state and region of the West—indeed, the country—needs to emulate if we are to grasp what the vital convergence of our rivers, our land, and ourselves reveals: water is life. (Frank Bergon, author of Wild Game)
Focusing on the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake area of western Nevada, the authors lay bare the complex ecological problems that lie just beneath the manicured lawns of the new west's instant suburbs. The text weaves together first-person narrative with an ecological overview and social history of the region, while the stunning photographs convey both the natural beauty and the man-made insults that abound in this region. A Doubtful River is an important, cautionary book about our attitudes toward nature and the impending disaster if we don't learn to inhabit the desert on its own terms. This is one of those rare books where neither the text nor the imagery is subservient to the other. (Terence Pitts, Director of the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona)
A Doubtful River tells us of water rights and of water wrongs, a river system that has been used and abused. It shows us despoliation and hubris, folly and vandalism, the product of willful behavior, greed and ignorance, but also inspiring tales. This landscape has to struggle for balance in the contradiction and contrast between natives and newcomers, purity and pollution, sage and casinos, desert and dams, public desire and private property rights. A Doubtful River demonstrates the paradox that this 'harsh' landscape requires gentle treatment. (Kenneth Helphand, University of Oregon, Department of Landscape Architecture)
A Doubtful River issues a poignant call to take a hard look at our place in the West. Its engaging stories and direct photographs provide an important lesson and warning for the contemporary West about the reality of scarce water. (John Rohrbach, Associate Curator of Photographs, Amon Carter Museum)
In the tradition of the legendary geographical surveys of the 1870s, Robert Dawson, Peter Goin, and Mary Webb have created a documentary project, which once again calls our attention to the fragile relationship between man and nature, and the need for proper intervention. The Truckee River, not a household name, is revealed in all its natural glory and potential endangerment as a representative example of what is and could be happening all over this nation. The photographs and text in this volume become a rally point for all of us that are concerned about how we can save and cherish the wonderment of this land for this new century. (Miles Barth, Author and Independent Curator)
Every person who moves to Reno, or really the West, will be interested in the history of this river. It's the story of a river in the desert— a lifeline fought over by city people, power users, farmers, environmentalists, and Native Americans—in short, all of us who live in an arid land. (Rita Schmidt Sudman, Executive Director, Water Education Foundation)
The distinction between acre feet and streamhood, like the difference between board feet and foresthood, defines different realities. The reality we choose mirrors our morality and therefore our future on this continent. This volume should help us be objective in the right way. (Wes Jackson, The Land Institute)
A Doubtful River shows just how unnatural nature can be. The Truckee River is just one of the world's thoroughly reworked rivers, but by investigating their local waterway so thoroughly in word and image, these writers and photographers teach us that there's hardly a place left where we people haven't gotten our feet wet and taken charge of the flow. Read it before you take your next drink or swim! ( David Rothenberg, editor of The New Earth Reader: The Best of Terra Nova)