As someone who has lived my adult life on Lake Michigan, I’ve followed stories about invasive species, water levels, the watershed border, and endless sources of pollution. I’ve heard the pronouncements of 21st century wars being fought over water, and imagined how coastal cities would dream of draining the Lakes the way they did the Colorado River. But whether you know a lot or a little about The Great Lakes, Dan Egan’s new book is a must read because it brings the issues to life with his expert storytelling. The tragedy of invasive species is only exacerbated when you come to terms with just how little traffic passes through the St. Lawrence Seaway. And there’s no better warning to America’s future than the Aral Sea, the once fourth largest body of water that is now an arid desert. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes lays out our past and our future, showing how both failures (and alas, successes) can turn around with time, as well as how much politics goes into every decision. Who knew sports fishing had so much clout? A fascinating read about a subject of urgent importance!— Daniel Goldin
New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Award
"Nimbly splices together history, science, reporting and personal experiences into a taut and cautiously hopeful narrative.… Egan’s book is bursting with life (and yes, death)." —Robert Moor, New York Times Book Review
The Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior—hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work, and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is prize-winning reporter Dan Egan’s compulsively readable portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come.
About the Author
Dan Egan is a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a senior water policy fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences. He has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and he has won the Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award, John B. Oakes Award, AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award, and J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. A graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, he lives in Milwaukee with his wife and children.
Suspenseful, superbly informative, crucial.
— Louise Erdrich
Fascinating and brilliant… Egan’s narrative often moves like a thriller.
— Vicky Albritton and Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
Easy to read, offering well-paced, intellectually stimulating arguments, bolstered by well-researched and captivating narratives.
— Lekelia Danielle Jenkins
Dan Egan has done more than any other journalist in America to chronicle the decline of this once-great ecosystem.
— Judges’ citation, Grantham Award of Special Merit for Environmental Beat Reporting
A compelling chronicle of the many, many (many) man-caused hazards that have threatened the largest source of accessible freshwater in the world.
— Susan Glaser
A marvelous work of nonfiction, which tells the story of humanity’s interference with the natural workings of the world’s largest unfrozen freshwater system.
— Anne Moore
Important.… Egan’s book serves as a reminder that the ecological universe we inhabit is vastly connected and cannot be easily mended by humility and good intentions.
— Meghan O’Gieblyn
Egan’s knowledge, both deep and wide, comes through on every page, and his clear writing turns what could be confusing or tedious material into a riveting story.
— Margaret Quamme
Brings the Great Lakes’ decline—and moments of rebirth—to life.… Firsthand tales from the people directly involved in the Great Lakes’ unfolding ecological drama drive Egan’s brisk narrative forward.
— Danielle S. Furlich
A literary clarion call.… Egan’s narrative reflects a nuanced understanding of history and science, which is matched by his keen perceptions about public policy.
This book feels urgent to policymakers and laypersons alike.
— Kerri Arsenault