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River of Life, Channel of Death

Fish and Dams on the Lower Snake

Keith C. Petersen

6 × 9 inches. Map. Chronology. Index. 336 pages.

2001. ISBN 978-0-87071-496-2. Paperback, $24.95.

In the words of the author, "this book is the story of how people came to settle this region and demand river alterations--and how some eventually came to oppose them… It is also the chronicle, yet unfolding, of the conflict between native wildlife and dams. In microcosm it is, in many ways, the story of the American West."

This history of the four Lower Snake River dams and their impact on Northwest salmon was named "Book of the Year" by the Idaho Library Association. River of Life, Channel of Death tells the story of the long struggle to bring navigation to Lewiston and hydro-power to a region; of the influence of powerful congressional representatives and booster organizations; of a clash of cultures, first between Indians and whites and later between environmentalists and developers; and of the role of the federal government in Western settlement.

While the dams made Lewiston into the farthermost inland seaport in the western United States, they continue to be a subject of controversy in the continuing national debate over the fate of Northwest salmon. In a new preface written for this edition, Petersen comments on information that has become available and events that have occurred since his book was first published in 1995.

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