The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea

Jack E. Davis. Liveright, $29.95 (608p) ISBN 978-0-87140-866-2
In this comprehensive and thoroughly researched narrative, Davis, professor of history and sustainability at the University of Florida, positions the Gulf of Mexico as an integral part of American ecology, culture, and—with future good stewardship—economic success. He sprinkles geological and marine history throughout the chronicle of the coast’s demographic changes from indigenous inhabitants to European colonizers, Louisiana Cajuns, Texas roughnecks, and Florida’s tourists. Davis unflinchingly addresses the decades of oil spills, overfishing, and poor environmental practices that reduced resources. He also describes the decline of coastal marshes, which protect against hurricanes, and the erosion stemming from ill-conceived Army Corps of Engineer projects. Hurricanes Camille and Katrina and the catastrophic BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill poignantly receive their due. Davis also discusses inspired conservation efforts to combat the fashion industry’s feather fascination and subsequent decimation of snowy egrets. The density of the fact-packed chapters calls for a deliberate reading pace so as not to overlook any of Davis’s thought-provoking commentary and keen descriptions. Rather than advocate an impractical hands-off approach to dealing with the Gulf’s myriad issues, Davis makes the convincing argument that wiser, far-sighted practices—including those aimed at combating climate change—could help the Gulf region to remain a bastion of resources for the foreseeable future. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2017
Release date: 03/14/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 608 pages - 978-1-63149-402-4
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-87140-867-9
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