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One's man Chaos is another person's Entertainment

The Control of Nature by John McPhee

The Control of Nature by John McPhee is a non-fiction book which mixes a bit of science into the stories of people who, in simple terms, fight a potentially losing battle against the strong forces of nature. The author follows the individuals trying to protect humans lives and homes in three regions. In each of these areas humans seek to reverse the natural processes of nature with mixed results.

Genre:  Science  

Publisher: The Noonday Press

Released:  1989

Stars:  4 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

The first troubled region McPhee explores is the Mississippi delta where the river has threatened to overflow its banks which would destroy hundreds of homes and lives. A river, like the Mississippi, fills with silt, clogs up, and then breaks free to find an easier path to the sea. However, such an event would not only kill and uproot thousands of Americans but also grind the giant core of the shipping industry which takes place around the mouth of the Mississippi to a halt. McPhee explores the lives of the heroes on the ground and the scientists who are backing them up in an all out attempt to delay the inevitable.

Next, we fly over to Iceland where one of their most prosperous fishing villages, located on an island off the coast, is nearly enveloped by lava. Instead of letting the town go without a fight, they blast the walls of lava with firehoses full of ocean water around the clock.  

Lastly, we end up in California where the wealthy, who can escape the crime and smog of Los Angles by clinging to the south side of the San Gabriel Mountains, find themselves in greater peril when rivers of mud filled with boulders and vehicles comes crashing into their homes. People are constructing barriers and catchment areas, but they are often just putting off the inescapable dangers of building on the edge of an eroding mountain range.

This book is well written, and McPhee knows what he is doing. He comes off half anthropologist and half sensationalist reporter. He digs in deep with these three subjects leaving the reader well informed on the situation by the time they are done. Much of what is happening is exciting and often scary.

Some people would probably give this book the 5 stars it deserves but it did not grab me in a head lock of interest which I require for my 5-star books. The book is great, informative, and fun but I was not rushing to read the next page.

The battle between men and nature is a strange one. We appear to be winning more than not, but nature gets to have the final say. If you enjoy exploring the intensity of such conflicts this is a great book for you to grab or buy it for that retired engineering uncle, you have.



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Grab my Cyberpunk novel here. Dak has been hired to chase down the Skinjumper clones, he biggest problem, he’s dating one.

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