An intimate look at Michigan's scenic, trout-filled Pere Marquette River and the larger resource-management challenges it represents


At a mere glance, Cold Running River has obvious regional and environmental appeal, but it goes far beyond those interests. Besides the fact that the Pere Marquette is a well-known, National Scenic River, and besides the fact that ecosystem management is a monumentally important and far-reaching topic, this book happens to read like a cold river runs: fast, refreshing, exuberant. It is special because David Cassuto has a beautiful way with the English language. Only he can make a chapter on lamprey eel infestation a gripping read. His style is so affecting, so warm, so "Norman Macleany"—you might be sitting on the river's bank, hearing the locals tell their tales of the river's history.

That's what this book is: the river's history. It follows the miraculous course of the Pere Marquette: from its tumultuous glacial birth; to its devastation in the nineteenth century by unsustainable logging practices; to its recovery due to benign neglect. Cassuto approaches the river as both microcosm and metaphor; the controversies surrounding it speak to environmental and human dilemmas the world over.