The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea

by Jack E. Davis

Hardcover, 2017





Liveright, (2017).


Significant beyond tragic oil spills and hurricanes, the Gulf has historically been one of the world's most bounteous marine environments, supporting human life for millennia. Based on the premise that nature lies at the center of human existence, Davis takes readers on a compelling and, at times, wrenching journey from the Florida Keys to the Texas Rio Grande, along marshy shorelines and majestic estuarine bays, both beautiful and life-giving, though fated to exploitation by esurient oil men and real-estate developers. Davis shares previously untold stories, parading a vast array of historical characters past our view: sports-fishermen, presidents, Hollywood executives, New England fishers, the Tabasco king, a Texas shrimper, and a New York architect who caught the "big one". Sensitive to the imminent effects of climate change, and to the difficult task of rectifying the assaults of recent centuries, this book suggests how a penetrating examination of a single region's history can inform the country's path ahead. --… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member bogopea
Fascinating. Eye opening. Frightening. Heartbreaking. Haunting.
LibraryThing member zmagic69
This was a fascinating account of the Gulf of Mexico. It blended early history of how it was formed, how it affected, Spanish, British, and French explorers, how so much of the coast came under United States control, and why this so important to America’s economic future.
It of course also covers everything man has done to destroy it.
The oil spills
Chemical spills
Massive amounts of chemicals, fertilizers, and other industrial waste that is routinely dumped- either directly in it, or by rivers flowing into it.
The author isn’t to preachy about how evil humans are and how it would great if we all went back to living the way we did 400 years ago, although he would probably advocate for it.
The problem with environmentalists and other nature alarmists is that to get their point across, or get heard they tend to blow up or exaggerate or always go with the worst possible scenario of what will happen, or what has happened.
This strategy is fine if what you are predicting is going to take place a hundred years or more from now, if the claim is in 5 years this is what will happen, but if the evidence doesn’t support what is said people don’t take the environmentalists seriously.
After the Deepwater Horizon explosion every science expert in the world painted an apocalyptic future of the Gulf and then turned out to be somewhat, mostly or completely wrong, or had wildly overblown the outcome. Again this is why there is so much doubt when hearing from “the experts” about the environment, climate change, the oceans health etc.
This is also not a Democrat or Republican is issue, and to make it such doesn’t help the situation. The Deepwater Horizon explosion took place when Obama was president and had filled the EPA with liberal doomsday sayers, and yet, the EPA was nearly as complicit in the disaster and the aftermath as BP.
Back to the book, the author does an great job showing the oftentimes gradual destroying of the coast in every state on the Gulf, and explaining what and why it is important to the future and health of the Gulf.
I highly recommend this book.
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Original language


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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Non-circulating
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