BIG MUDDY BLUES: True Tales and Twisted Politics Along Lewis and Clark's Missouri River

Bill Lambrecht, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-32783-5

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.)

Reviewed on: 02/21/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-7997-3
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