Paper pub. date
January 1996
ISBN 9780870713910 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 352 pages. Photographs. Chronology. Index.
This book is out of print

A Common Fate

Endangered Salmon and the People of the Pacific Northwest

Joseph Cone
With a new epilogue by the author.

Salmon are the soul of the Pacific Northwest, a cultural cornerstone of the region. Today the salmon's future is uncertain and has become one of this decade's most closely watched environmental issues. In his nationally acclaimed book A Common Fate, science writer Joseph Cone traces the dramatic history of the plight of the Pacific salmon and of the many Northwest citizens who are fighting passionately against their seemingly imminent extinction.

Beginning with the effects of burgeoning canneries in the late nineteenth century, Cone reconstructs the factors — including overfishing, dam building, and habitat loss — that have caused the rapid depletion of salmon stocks. He documents not only the decline of a key resource, but also the growing awareness of this decline, an awareness that eventually escalates into a national wake-up call in the 1990s.

The struggle to save the salmon is becoming the most costly and contentious environmental restoration effort ever undertaken. A Common Fate depicts this struggle through the actions of a few representative individuals — including environmentalists, scientists, politicians, and industry executives. The portraits go far beyond a monochromatic black and white to show the colors of people with different points of view and values who wrestle with the ecologic, economic, and social issues surrounding the crisis.

Cone's masterful telling of this story offers a valuable lesson for all who care not only about the future of the salmon but about our common environmental fate. For A Common Fate is ultimately about a crucial moment of choice before us now: will we find the way to keep the world alive with the diversity of life that sustains us today, or will this living world fall into diminishment, at incalculable loss to everyone?

A Common Fate was first published in hardcover in 1995 by Henry Holt.

About the author

Joseph Cone is the co-editor of The Northwest Salmon Crisis and the author of Fire Under the Sea, which was named one of the top science books of the year by Library Journal and Booklist.

Read more about this author

Chapter One: Denial and Engagement
Chapter Two: Conflict
Chapter Three: Crisis
Chapter Four: Questions of Values
Chapter Five: Hope and Dread
Chapter Six: A Common Fate
Appendix: A Chronology of an Ecosystem Crisis

Places in A Common Fate
Dams and hatcheries in the Columbia River basin
Salmon stocks at risk
Logging threatens salmon

"A dazzling achievement… Cone is a marvelous writer with a galvanizing tale to tell."

—The Oregonian

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