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The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  1,117 Ratings  ·  144 Reviews
Timothy Egan describes his journeys in the Pacific Northwest through visits to salmon fisheries, redwood forests and the manicured English gardens of Vancouver. Here is a blend of history, anthropology and politics.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 3rd 1991 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 09, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kim by: Theobroma
This book is one of the most depressing books I've read in a long time. In this book Egan set out to follow in the footsteps of Theodore Winthrop, a 19th century American writer and traveller, who wrote a deailed book about his travels around the Pacific Northwest of the North American continent. Egan talks about the differences he found 137 years after Winthrop wrote his book.

And as I said at the start it's very depressing. The sheer amount of damage and devestation caused by man is horrendous.
John Boettner
Jan 06, 2011 John Boettner rated it it was amazing
Personally I found this book created the seminal event that influenced the remaining course of my life; both as a lifelong resident of Washington State, and particularly as an Aquatic Scientist. My work has caused me to travel many parts of Washington State that Timothy Egan mentions in this book, so in many ways Egan and I are kindred spirits. Between this work and the book: "King of the Fish" by David R. Montgomery, I gained insight into the workings of man that I'd never know without this inf ...more
May 17, 2010 itpdx rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is Timothy Egan's homage to the Northwest. I bought the book at an author's reading for his new book The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America. When Egan signed it for me, he said that I might find it dated. It was published in 1990 and is somewhat dated--the Seahawks are still playing in the Kingdome, Astoria has not yet attained cuteness (based on being mostly a tourist town) and although he talks about the wind in the Gorge in reference to the windsurfers, the windmil ...more
Eldan Goldenberg
Apr 16, 2009 Eldan Goldenberg rated it liked it
Three stars doesn't do this book justice. It should get 5 for the second half, and -1 for the worst parts.

When it's good, this is a beautiful, moving and informative description of the Pacific Northwest. Egan can be wonderful at describing the beauty of the region and the emotions it induces in people, and at the stupidity and sheer unbridled greed that has led to some of the worst problems we have today. But he can also over-reach, both in terms of just over-egging his writing and exaggerating
Jan 04, 2014 Kenneth rated it really liked it
The tone is level but there's no hiding the fact this is, ultimately, a rather indignant book. And to the reader a depressing one. It is also very good.

Egan - following in the footsteps of a mid-19th century traveler of the Northwest, Theodore Winthrop (who wrote of his trip in The Canoe and the Saddle) - takes a year out "attempting to follow the Yankee [Winthrop] from Oregon desert to green-smothered rain forest, from storm-battered ocean edge to the inland waters, from the new cities of the N
Jul 02, 2008 Tova rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves the Pacific Northwest, history, gets wound up about resource mismanagement
I am a native Oregonian and move through life radiating a lot of Oregon love. But loving Oregon means embracing the ongoing conflict between civilization and nature.

Timothy Egan's book does an excellent job sharing both the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest and the man-made disaster. As Egan travelled around the region, exploring the history of Native Americans, white settlers and the land, I was dumbstruck by the shear number of salmon and trees obliterated by over-logging, over-fishing and da
Andy Perdue
Jun 08, 2013 Andy Perdue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: northwest
An amazing journey through the beautiful and tragic Pacific Northwest. This might just be the best book I've read in the past 10 years. I'd seen in on shelves for the past 20 and finally picked it up in a used bookstore in Cannon Beach.

Author Timothy Egan follows the path of 19th century adventurer Theodore Winthrop - for whom a town in Washington and a glacier on Mount Rainier were named. During Egan's journey, he shared environmental concerns regarding timber, salmon, rivers, dams and pollutio
Apr 13, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it
Written before locally based Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft took over the world, Egan's book defines the Pacific Northwest in terms of its abundant, and increasingly threatened, natural resources. Almost 25 years later, it seems as relevant as ever.
Feb 07, 2014 Babs rated it really liked it
This book was loaded with gems about the Pacific NW. The expression 'Tweed Curtain' referencing Victoria, BC's UK roots. The Strait of Juan de Fuca named after a Greek-born explorer in the service of Spain. And, the exploits of a living mountaineering legend, Fred Beckey.

A chapter an evening led me to sweet dreams of my Washington State.
Sep 17, 2014 Laurie rated it really liked it
"And in all that period while I was so near Nature, the great lessons of the wilderness deepened into my heart day by day, the hedges of conventionalism withered away from my horizon, and all the pedantries of scholastic thought perished out of my mind forever."

~The Canoe and the Saddle, Theodore Winthrop
Dec 21, 2009 Janice rated it really liked it
Timothy Egan is a very consciencious writer. He wants the facts to be correct and I appreciate that. He's also a very good speaker, so if you have a chance to go to a reading, do it. Often writers are not good speakers, but he is. I'm eage to read his latest book, The Big Burn.
Apr 16, 2012 Leonard rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone who lives here, particularly newcomers. Egan's selection great stories and characters from the Pacific Northwest and the masterful way in which he weaves those threads into a beautiful tale is what makes this a tough book to put down.
Mar 04, 2015 Ryan rated it it was amazing
This book is a romance to the place I grew up. Not always pretty, and often scarred, it is beauty in its truth. Grandeur and simple it is all laid out.
Sep 29, 2013 Derek rated it really liked it
Good way to start learning about the known natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest.
Oct 21, 2011 Cathy rated it it was amazing
what a great romp through the history of the northwest. i really enjoy this book with its anecdotes and descriptions.

Astoria, at the mouth of the columbia, was british during the war of 1812, the confederates roamed off shore during the civil war and the japanese fired upon it during wwII. it was founded by john jacob astor of manhattan a fur emporer from new york.

douglas fir named after david douglas, a young scottish botanist who spent a year in the cascades and discovered plants and trees tha
Oct 17, 2016 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative descriptive history of what makes the Pacific Northwest special.
Feb 27, 2015 John rated it liked it
In anticipation of an upcoming trip to the Seattle area, I picked up this book at a used bookstore after having read about it online. I was hoping for a kind of pre-vacation vacation, and the book delivered with a wide-ranging tour of the region's diverse landscapes.

Egan draws the region's borders with help from one of its greatest resources: “The Pacific Northwest is simply this: wherever the salmon can get to. Rivers without salmon have lost the life source of the area.” It's a lovely thought,
This should have been a 5 star book. The title "The Good Rain"; the locale - Washington, Oregon and British Columbia - my homeland, especially Washington; and the stories. The story about the Goldman family alone was worth 5 stars - a horrific true-crime tragedy. Young family brutally killed, and it turned out to be a mistake by a drunken, mentally disturbed man. The back story that set him off included a proto-McCarthyite attack on the previous generation of Goldman's, pre-WWII. The attacker wo ...more
Sara Van Dyck
Aug 03, 2015 Sara Van Dyck rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, nature
An older book but well worth reading and still relevant. Egan takes many small local stories of the Pacific Northwest, and without blending them creates an overall impression of a region. These are personal stories, not an account of scientific research or a policy study. He travels from the upper reaches of the Columbia down to Ashland, looking at the geography, history, the character of each place, and listening to the residents. What emerges is his sense of sorrow at the loss of sweeping fore ...more
Jun 06, 2008 Justin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pacific Northwesterners, Natural and Native American History Buffs, Greens
Recommended to Justin by: I found it at Third Place in Lake Forest Park, WA
Egan begins his book hiking up into the mountains of Washington to drop his grandfather's ashes into the glacial source of most of its rivers. Seeking out old writings on the American Northwest, Egan mimics the travels of famous and not-so-famous explorers and mountaineers, providing historical, geographical and sociological insight on his way. By the end, I wanted to drink microbrews and Yakima Valley wine, eat Ranier Cherries, apples and Chinook Salmon, and stop the timber industry from encroa ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it
I'll be visiting the Pacific Northwest next month, and this book was a great introduction to the area. (It won't be my first visit; I was in Seattle in 2003, but this upcoming visit will be more outdoors oriented.)

Anyway, Timothy Egan, years before his terrific book about the Dust Bowl (The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl) wrote this book about the region he grew up in. Some of it may be out of date, but he covers many aspects of the area: Sal
Aug 30, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it
Timothy Egan is such a good writer and observer as well as quite funny and sarcastic at times too. Much of the focus is the changes in the use of resources in Washington and Oregon states, especially the decline of salmon and timber as well as the growth in fruit and wine (through the lens of following a historical trip). I was particularly struck by the story of the journalists touring the damage caused by Mt St Helens by helicopter - as the journalists are exclaiming that there is nothing left ...more
Dec 24, 2010 Ilya rated it really liked it
An environmental history of the Pacific Northwest - Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, with chapters on salmon, the Columbia River, Seattle, the Puyallup Nation, the rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula, a famous mountaineer and more. Briefly, the whites came in the mid-19th century and messed things up, pushing the natives and their way of life aside (yet leaving them some privileges, such as fishing rights, not accorded the rest of the citizens).

A reviewer on complains, "After
Sep 01, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it
I picked this book up because I was travelling to the Pacific Northwest for the first time. It provided a great lens to some of the cultural and natural history aspects of the region. The chapters tend to read is if 2 or 3 stories that cross wide time spans are shuffled among each other. I was not bothered by this, but it was certainly different. I found the following of Winthop's travels rather enjoyable.It made for a standard to compare against. The constant contrast of how much development an ...more
Jul 13, 2013 Jane rated it it was ok
Timothy Egan is the Pacific Northwest correspondent for the New York Times. With those credentials, it is no wonder that the book is eloquently written. The book is a reflection on Theodore Winthrop's historic trek into the wilds of the NW, the odious destruction of salmon habitat by the Core of Army Engineers, and the rise and fall of the logging industry. This is a black and white book where fingers are pointed and a few solutions offered.

I learned new things which is always a plus, but will
Nov 18, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read this back in '90, when it was published. It's a wonderful part travelogue and part history of the beautiful Northwest, a place my husband and chose to move to in 1989. Egan's writing, spiced with Theodore Winthrope's is clearly tantalizing. I found myself reading and rereading descriptive phrases that transformed me. This area had many problems getting to where it is today and growing up is still hard to do, but it's come a long way and other parts of the country are finally be ...more
Wendy Feltham
Jul 02, 2013 Wendy Feltham rated it really liked it
Although it's dated now in some ways, this 1991 book is an excellent source of history of the Pacific Northwest, and very well written. I liked the thread of one historical character, Theodore Winthrop, whose observations of the pristine Pacific Northwest in 1853 are mentioned in almost every chapter as contrast to current conditions. The forests were thicker, the salmon more plentiful, Puget Sound not yet polluted. It's shocking how much people have destroyed this beautiful place in just a few ...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing
This is the Handbook for anyone wishing to learn about or wanting to live in the Pacific Northwest. I have given it to others for just such a purpose and it works. Egan writes of the history, flavor, climate, and texture of the Pac NW--maybe it should be called the Primer of Washington.

I think you get the idea. It is an introduction, a history, a defense, and a Handbook. Yes, I recommend it. I would be silly not to do so since I live here and love it just as much as Egan.

Jul 21, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it
Love this writer. Egan is excellent at making non-fiction topics very interesting and compelling. Also loved "The Worst Hard Time" about the 1930s dust bowl, "The Big Burn" about this country's largest ever (still?) forest fire and efforts to put it out, and his newest, "Short Nights of the Shadowcatcher" about photographer Edward Curtis and his decades of work documenting the USA's native tribes and their cultures before they were lost completely. "The Good Rain", Egan's first book, is about th ...more
Feb 25, 2016 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Good Rain was interesting because I recently moved to the Northwest. I found some parts difficult to relate to since I have little knowledge of the area. It seems rather depressing that humans only think about making money and disregard what they are doing to the environment around them. Environmental destruction seemed to be the overriding theme of The Good Rain. It did not help that I was traveling in Panama and learning about the building of the Panama Canal at the same time I was reading ...more
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Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize winning author who resides in Seattle, Washington. He currently contributes opinion columns to The New York Times as the paper's Pacific Northwest correspondent.

In addition to his work with The New York Times, he has written six books, including The Good Rain, Breaking Blue, and Lasso the Wind.

Most recently he wrote "The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that
More about Timothy Egan...

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“Sometimes the wind along the Pacific shore blows so hard it steals your breath before you can inhale it.” 13 likes
“The larger question for the Northwest, where the cities are barely a hundred years old but contain three-fourths of the population, is whether the wild land can provide work for those who need it as their source of income without being ruined for those who need it as their source of sanity.” 5 likes
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