Holding Back the River

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“In vivid detail… [journalist Tyler J. Kelley] describes the delicate dance performed every day to ferry massive amounts of goods along these waterways and relays how they came to play such an important role in America’s economy… Holding Back the River is a riveting depiction of an issue that is not going away anytime soon.”—BookPage

“A sobering tour of aging infrastructure built under different circumstances in the first half of the 20th century… Kelley’s engaging work will draw in those interested in personal stories of the effects of climate change, and use of natural resources.”—Library Journal

“A gimlet-eyed look at America’s rapidly deteriorating riparian infrastructure.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A sweeping examination of geology, geography, social history, and economics, delivered in readable fashion.”—Booklist

“An illuminating look at the people and policies working to tame America’s rivers… with meticulous reporting and insightful analysis… Anyone concerned with the myriad issues surrounding the manipulation of waterways will want to take a look.”—Publishers Weekly

“I congratulate Tyler Kelley. He has written on the one hand a good and sometimes painful story—or stories—showing us at our most human, and on the other an insightful and important examination of our policy toward rivers. This is a fine book.” —John M. Barry, author of Rising Tide and The Great Influenza

“With careful, artful reporting and an instinct for the plot lines laid out by flowing water, Tyler J. Kelley has written a highly readable book. He takes two important subjects–the middle part of our country, and its water-related infrastructure–and shows how fascinating they are. “Holding Back the River” is a wonderful achievement.”—New Yorker writer Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia and On the Rez

What a mess we’ve made! How hard can it be to let water run downhill? Yet here is Tyler J. Kelley’s riveting account of the consequences of human attempts to channel, divert, confine, and conquer the mid-continental plumbing of North America. Not an easy book to write, this is a story everyone needs to read, especially as we blunder further into the great unknown of climate change.” ––Eric W. Sanderson, author of MannahattaA Natural History of New York City and Terra NovaThe New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs

“We like to think that we have control over our waterways and what floats on them but focusing on the nation’s most-relied-upon rivers, this book introduces readers to the people whose lives depend on the rivers in many ways, and it exposes the mythology and the truth of what could happen if the dams, locks, or gates fail, ecologically, economically, and to society. Those structures are aging. Learn what’s being done about them.” 
—Terri Schlichenmeyer