THE TROUT POOL PARADOX: The American Lives of Three Rivers

George Black, Author . Houghton Mifflin $24 (327p) ISBN 978-0-618-31080-7

At the heart of the trout pool paradox and Black's work is the notion that the "limpid currents at the base of waterfall" are where both fish and factories flourish. To plumb this irony, Black follows the history of Connecticut's Housatonic River and the divergent tales of two of its main tributaries: the Shepaug ("the Platonic ideal of a trout stream") and the Naugatuck ("a chemical sewer"). Tracing the region's history from the white settlers' arrival in the 17th century, Black shows how, thanks to a little luck, bad business and regional pride, the Shepaug remained more isolated than the Naugatuck, which became the power source (and the toilet) for Waterbury and its once booming brass business. But this is more than just a history book. Black (The Good Neighbor ) goes to great lengths to show how a trout river is created by nature, interviewing the environmentalists, fishermen, lawyers, politicians and businesspeople who deal with the difficult task of balancing the river's ecological and economic impact. When it comes to researching these rivers, Black leaves no stone unturned, both searching out historical texts and local experts and literally wading in the rivers and flipping stones to examine the rivers' insects. Black's writing smoothly runs the gamut from highly scientific to the poetic prose you might expect from a fly fisherman raised in Scotland. And while the mixing of genres—science, history, fishing, etc.—may initially scare off some single-minded readers, Black's open-minded approach to each subject makes for a comprehensive account of how water shapes our natural and man-made environments. Photos. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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