River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster

Jonathan P. Thompson. Torrey House, $18.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-937226-83-1
Mixing reportage, historical inquiry, and personal narrative, environmental journalist Thompson uses the Gold King Mine disaster as the starting point of an investigation into the environmental history of Colorado’s Animas River Valley, stretching back to the beginning of European colonization. In 2015, three million gallons of bright-orange, heavy-metal-tainted water spewed out in a matter of minutes from the defunct Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colo. Though the immediate danger of the toxins passed relatively quickly, it irreparably altered the relationships that the local Diné (Navajo) had with their land. “Our history is a history of pollution,” Thompson writes, detailing the damages caused by even the most primitive forms of mining in a seemingly endless war between mining companies and the humans and wildlife that depend on the water systems near mining sites. Thompson, a southwestern Colorado native, knowledgeably and sensitively addresses ethical questions at the heart of his inquiry, including what it would mean to restore the water system to its precolonial state. He also effortlessly explains the technical elements of this story, such as the complex chemistry of the environmental effects of mining. This is a vivid historical account of the Animas region, and Thompson shines in giving a sense of what it means to love a place that’s been designated a “sacrifice zone.” (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/18/2017
Release date: 02/01/2018
Ebook - 275 pages - 978-1-937226-84-8
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