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Northwest Passage


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Promotional Information

Dietrich's measured, thoughtful book views the Columbia through a succession of different lenses-as a bountiful fishery for the Indians, as a snag-ridden and nearly impassable highway for the early white explorers, as a hugely powerful manufacturer of hydroelectricity, as a source of irrigation for farmers, as the town drain for the mining and nuclear weapons industries. His Columbia is really a woven braid of the many rivers of the fisherman, the farmer, the engineer, the towboat operator, the explorer, the industrialist. -- Jonathan Raban, author of Old Glory

Table of Contents

Introduction to the 2016 Edition

1. The Picnic in the Coulee
2. The River of Imagination
3. Vagrant and Most Dangerous
4. Beginning and End
5. The Sculpted River
6. Comcomly’s Head
7. In Heathen Lands to Dwell
8. The River That Was
9. Out Here
10. The Inland Empire
11. The Electric Revolution
12. The Biggest Thing on Earth
13. The House of Lies
14. The Salmon Gauntlet
15. The Poisoned River
16. Cloudville

A Columbia River Chronology
Major Dams of the Columbia Basin

About the Author

William Dietrich, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for his coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, is the author of Natural Grace: The Charm, Wonder, and Lessons of Pacific Northwest Animals and Plants, The Final Forest: Big Trees, Forks, and the Pacific Northwest, and popular fiction.


"An engaging case study of a whole bundle of environmental and social issues (pollution, hydropower politics, Indian rights, resource economics) that should matter to people all over the country."

"A wonderful, disturbing, and thought-provoking history of the Columbia River, Northwest Passage is a remarkable book, first of all in its scope and complexity. Here is a fine blend of natural history, of human history, and of political history."

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