The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest

by Timothy Egan

Hardcover, 1990

Status

Available

Publication

Knopf (1990), Edition: 1St Edition, 254 pages

Description

A fantastic book! Timothy Egan describes his journeys in the Pacific Northwest through visits to salmon fisheries, redwood forests and the manicured English gardens of Vancouver. Here is a blend of history, anthropology and politics. From the Trade Paperback edition.

User reviews

LibraryThing member eldang
Three stars doesn't do this book justice. It should get 5 for the second half, and -1 for the worst parts.

When it's good, this is a beautiful, moving and informative description of the Pacific Northwest. Egan can be wonderful at describing the beauty of the region and the emotions it induces in people, and at the stupidity and sheer unbridled greed that has led to some of the worst problems we have today. But he can also over-reach, both in terms of just over-egging his writing and exaggerating claims (he makes Rainier Valley sound like Compton) to the point of undermining his own credibility. And in places he falls for the sort of ridiculous stereotypes and cliches that make it sound like he's writing this all from New York.

The chapter about Victoria, in particular, was such an irritating pastiche of stereotypes about Canada, the US and Britain that it almost made me stop reading and I would advise anyone to skip it altogether. I'm glad I continued though, and most of the badness is concentrated towards the beginning.

The chapters on native tribes and on salmon are particularly beautifully written, and the parts that I know the factual background to check out with the other things I've read or learned about. They will make you angry, but appropriately so.
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LibraryThing member co_coyote
I was in the Pacific Northwest recently, and wandered into a locally-owned bookstore in Edmonds. "What's the best book to read about this area," I asked the knowledgeable bookseller. "Well, this one," she said, handing me this slim book by Timothy Egan. I was familiar with Egan, having read his book, The Worst Hard Time, last year. This book is of the same high quality, although it is aging slightly now. Still, it fills you in nicely on the people, issues, and landscape of this beautiful part of the world. And it certainly wet my appetite for seeing more of its wonders.… (more)
LibraryThing member ksnider
In this book, Timothy Egan travels around the Pacific Northwest and give the reader a sense of its natural, environmental, and modern history. He (sort of) follows the footsteps of Theodore Winthrop who explored the area in 1853. He compares what Winthrop saw, and what Winthrop predicted for the area, to what Egan saw in 1990.

I have lived in the Northwest for over 30 years and have traveled around quite a bit, but this book was full of interesting things that I did not know. It even gave me one or two new places I need to visit. Egan manages to fit quite a bit into a small volume.

His observations make you think a lot about some of the trade-offs we've made - sometimes out of good but ignorant intentions and sometimes out of carelessness. Obviously there is no excuse for our treatment of the native tribes. But sometimes the things we did that have negatively impacted the environment have been for good reasons - damns that brought electricity to farmers in eastern Washington, for example. While Egan has an obvious bent toward leaving things as they were, he also presents the other side of the argument.

The book will be much more interesting to those who live in or have visited the Northwest. But it might just spur an interest in one who has not been here before.

I have already given this book as a gift and will probably do so again.
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LibraryThing member ksmyth
As a Northwest native, and longtime resident of Puyallup, I found Egan's book, published in 1990 an engaging read, and somewhat prophetic about the effects of the continued growth and development of the Puget Sound region-both in the wild and not-so-wild wild places.

Egan traces the route of an 1853 writer who explored the region from Astoria to Victoria, B.C., and the rest of the Puget Sound region on foot and by Kayak. He shares the interviews with those he met along the way, offering something of a travelogue, but with a bit of "look what you've done to this place," and some warning of worse to come. At times it feels a bit like eco-fingerpointing, but in my heart I know he's mostly correct. Some wonderful writing and description.… (more)
LibraryThing member chadmarsh
Egan's first book is a highly informative - and fairly opinionated - look at Pacific Northwest history, politics, and ecology. *The Good Rain* would serve as an excellent introduction to anyone new to the region or simply interested in learning about this part of the country.
LibraryThing member Gwendydd
Timothy Egan follows in the footsteps of Winthrop, who traveled in the Pacific Northwest in the 1850s and wrote a travel book about it. Egan looks at how the Pacific Northwest has and has not changed since then. Each chapter explores a particular area, examining its history, geography, and some of the interesting people who live there. The book focuses a lot on nature and ecology, because nature is such a major defining characteristic of the area.

There's lots of interesting information in here. Egan is a good writer. Some chapters were less interesting than others, so I found myself skimming parts of the book.

The book was written in 1990, and naturally the Pacific Northwest has changed a lot in 30 years. If you're looking for a current description of the Pacific Northwest, this isn't it. The logging industry, salmon recovery efforts, and attitudes about damming rivers are very different now (although they all follow trajectories found in the book). The chapter about Seattle is downright hilarious now: Egan talks about efforts to curb growth in the city of Seattle in the 1980s. The Seattle of today is suffering a lot from those efforts, because you can't stop a city from growing, and today Seattle is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and that growth is causing a lot of major problems.
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LibraryThing member Tanya-dogearedcopy
This is a non-fiction book wherein Timothy Egan travels around the Pacific Northwest in the the steps of a 19th century travel writer, Theodore Winthrop. Egan catalogues the changes over the centuries, comparing Winthrop's passages with the current conditions - so we have history and social commentary along with the descriptive writing. It's enlightening; but since it was written in the early 1990s, it could stand an update.… (more)
LibraryThing member eldang
Three stars doesn't do this book justice. It should get 5 for the second half, and -1 for the worst parts.

When it's good, this is a beautiful, moving and informative description of the Pacific Northwest. Egan can be wonderful at describing the beauty of the region and the emotions it induces in people, and at the stupidity and sheer unbridled greed that has led to some of the worst problems we have today. But he can also over-reach, both in terms of just over-egging his writing and exaggerating claims (he makes Rainier Valley sound like Compton) to the point of undermining his own credibility. And in places he falls for the sort of ridiculous stereotypes and cliches that make it sound like he's writing this all from New York.

The chapter about Victoria, in particular, was such an irritating pastiche of stereotypes about Canada, the US and Britain that it almost made me stop reading and I would advise anyone to skip it altogether. I'm glad I continued though, and most of the badness is concentrated towards the beginning.

The chapters on native tribes and on salmon are particularly beautifully written, and the parts that I know the factual background to check out with the other things I've read or learned about. They will make you angry, but appropriately so.
… (more)
LibraryThing member nmele
An excellent set of articles about the Pacific Northwest by an excellent writer and researcher. Almost two decades have passed since Egan wrote this, and an update would be not only useful but much appreciated. Still, it was very interesting to read these pages knowing which of the then controversial issues were resolved and which remain controversial.… (more)
LibraryThing member Shirezu
This book is one of the most depressing books I've read in a long time. In this book Egan set out to follow in the footsteps of Theodore Winthrop, a 19th century American writer and traveller, who wrote a deailed book about his travels around the Pacific Northwest of the North American continent. Egan talks about the differences he found 137 years after Winthrop wrote his book.

And as I said at the start it's very depressing. The sheer amount of damage and devestation caused by man is horrendous. Forests and rivers that had lasted thousands and thousands of years were destroyed within decades. Mankinds insatiable greed and stupidity has butchered so much that is irreplaceable. But there is hope, though this book doesn't show much. Written 20 years ago environmentalists back then were seen as druggies and hippies, people on the fringe. Since that time environmental awareness has grown throughout the world. It's still nowhere near good but it's the most aware Western civilization has been for an extremely long time.

I can't wait to travel to the locations Egan talks about to see how they have fared since the book was written. Internet searching shows most of the threatened forests have survived and are starting to prosper. Native populations of grey wolves, sea otters, salmon and orca are slowly building back up. We may unfortunately never go back to what it once was but we can stop it from disappearing altogether.
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Language

Original language

English

Barcode

1137

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