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The Tarball Chronicles: A Journey Beyond the Oiled Pelican and Into the Heart of the Gulf Oil Spill

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  55 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history: over the course of three months, nearly five million barrels of crude oil gushed into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and washed up along our coast. Yet it was an avoidable environmental catastrophe preceded by myriad others, from Three-Mile Island to the Exxon Valdez.

Traveling the shores of
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Milkweed Editions
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Tuck
Dec 14, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-history
Records the aftermath (as we knew it then in summer and fall of 2010, hells bells, we really don’t know much more now, except it was horrible and will haunt the earth for many more years to come) of the BP well blowout in gulf of mexico. Concentrates on more than a superficial news bite of a picture of an oiled pelican, but rather all the webs of life in the gulf. The delta, that has been ruined by corps of engineers for ship navigation, the oil industry that has ruined the salt and fresh water ...more
Ross
Sep 26, 2011 Ross rated it it was amazing
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was an epic disaster, sure. But oil development was a disaster for the Gulf coast long before the spill, and BP's mess may cause ripple effects far into the future.

David Gessner, the bird-watching, beer-swilling nature writer de jure went to the Gulf to report on this larger story. To shed light on the generations-deep human economy and way of life that is dependent on and intimately connected with the ecology of the sea, its barrier islands, the river and its
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D.W. Davis
Sep 25, 2011 D.W. Davis rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers who want to know what the real cost of the Deep Water Horizon disaster may be
I've never read a book that caused me to rethink my point-of-view on our use of fossil fuels to drive our lifestyle the way David Gessner did in THE TARBALL CHRONICLES. It was an eye-opening exposure to the reality of what the spill means, and will mean, to the people of the Gulf, and indeed, all of us, for years and decades to come.
Jen
Nov 08, 2012 Jen rated it liked it
I was just on a work trip to the New Orleans area to discuss environmental issues with local leaders, so this seemed like a good book to read to set some context for our conversations. I really enjoy David Gessner's writing style, but readers should be warned that he is not strictly a journalist and not strictly a nature writer. In this book he tries to be a little of both. I wouldn't be surprised if Gessner has been criticized for not examining enough sources in the telling of what happened in ...more
Jacki
Jul 20, 2011 Jacki rated it really liked it
Nature author David Gessner (My Green Manifesto) didn't plan to write about the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but when he heard the Gulf called a "national sacrifice zone," Gessner had to know who and what had been sacrificed. He traveled the Gulf states in search of the story beyond "the oiled pelican": the perception of the spill as a finite crisis, solved by dispersants and a capped well.

With a journalist's attention to detail and an engaging conversational style, Gessner offers reade
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Lydia Presley
Travel stories, personal anecdotes, scientific evidence, soul-searching questions, and environmental tourism all combine in David Gessner’s beautifully written book, The Tarball Chronicles. Even the cover, featuring the image of a man’s body, clad in protective gear, with the head of the infamous “oiled pelican” gives the reader a predictive look into the story held within the pages of Gessner’s book. Much like the illustrative pelican/man, Gessner draws heavily on the idea of connectivity and h ...more
Marissa Landrigan
Jan 06, 2016 Marissa Landrigan rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary book. While I know Gessner's magazine writing, this was the first full-length of his I've read, and it's the real deal. In this accounting, Gessner shows the true value of a story observed as closely and in as much real time as possible; by being present in the Gulf for the worst of it, he's able to tell a version of the story that dives much deeper than any news coverage, and to do so with evocative, lush description. It's also clear that Gessner took his time with this narrative, ...more
Amy
Aug 17, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
David Gessner goes to witness the Gulf Oil spill and finds BP (the company that caused the problem) is also in charge of the clean-up. Local fishermen who have lost their livelihoods are forced to work for BP and incidentally, sign an agreement not to talk to news media. Realizing that the delta of the Mississippi River has become a fossil-fuel sacrifice zone, Gessner wonders if anyone has thought through the nature of the environmental sacrifice that runs the modern world. What happens to local ...more
Ann
Oct 12, 2012 Ann rated it it was amazing
The best thing about the oil spill in the gulf and its implications for us and the environment. And it's funny. Gessner is a great and engaging writer, and his travel around the area changed by the oil spill puts a human face on an abstract environmental disaster. Great read!
Bill
Jul 02, 2011 Bill rated it it was amazing
Enjoying this one a great deal...
Jeannie
Jan 13, 2012 Jeannie rated it liked it
This book didn't cause me to reshape my opinions or thoughts regarding oil consumption and spills, but it did reinforce them.
Milkweed Editions
Southern Environmental Law Center Reed Award
Melissa Ooten
Mar 04, 2013 Melissa Ooten rated it really liked it
Great updated companion piece to Bayou Farewell. Terribly disheartening in terms of environmental devastation and the quick demise of Louisiana's bayous.
sdw
Jan 04, 2013 sdw rated it liked it
I enjoyed Gessner's writing style, and I enjoyed being forced to meditate on the Deepwater Horizon spill. It is a book that tries not to be preachy on a topic it is hard not to be preachy about.
Kate Koza
Apr 13, 2015 Kate Koza rated it it was amazing
"Since animals can't narrate, few of us hear their stories. But here is what the bird's struggle said to me: 'I can't stand to leave this place. This place, this world, has been my whole life.'"
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David Gessner is the author of eight books, including Sick of Nature, The Prophet of Dry Hill, and Return of the Osprey, which was chosen by the Boston Globe as one of the top ten nonfiction books of the year and the Book-of-the-Month club as one of its top books of the year. The Globe called it a "classic of American Nature Writing." In 2006 he won a Pushcart Prize; in 2007 he won the John Burrou ...more
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