Photo of the Columbia River by Starlisa used under a Creative Commons license.
Blaine Harden, A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia (W.W. Norton & Co., 1996).
When Woody Guthrie wrote his songs about the Columbia River during the Great Depression, hydroelectric projects like the Grand Coulee Dam were taming a wild river to bring jobs and electricity to a region that didn’t have enough of either. Harden’s father, like my grandfather, was one of the beneficiaries. Dams allowed barges to carry freight where rapids had been; irrigation made the desert bloom. Decades later, the Columbia is a river tamed, and the costs of this progress, such as declining salmon runs, are more evident. Harden, who grew up along the river and became a reporter for the Washington Post, traveled up and down the river to draw this picture of the river and the region.
Here is Google Book Search, with an excerpt and more. Here’s a story about Harden and the book in the Kitsap Sun. Phil Keisling, Oregon’s Secretary of State, reviewed it for Washington Monthly. Hal Espen reviewed it for The New York Times.