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

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  679 ratings  ·  100 reviews
A fantastic book! 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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Kim
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....more
John Boettner
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
itpdx
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
Kenneth
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...more
Andy Perdue
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...more
Eldan Goldenberg
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...more
Tova
Jul 02, 2008 Tova rated it 4 of 5 stars 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...more
Leonard
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.
Derek
Good way to start learning about the known natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest.
Cathy
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...more
Justin
Jun 06, 2008 Justin rated it 5 of 5 stars 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
Mary
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.
Menthink
Picked this book up in the airport whe traveling to Seattle. Facinating approach of describing, in each chapter, a place in the northwest. What it was like historically and what it is like today. Done in a manner much more engaging than described above.
Ilya
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 Amazon.com complains, "After...more
Jane
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...more
Wendy Feltham
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
Karen
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
Paul
May 10, 2012 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Didn't like this nearly as much as Lasso the Wind. The writing was clearly not as refined, and the whole thing, true to its subject, was altogether a bit dreary. The Pacific Northwest is full of natural beauty, and man has come in and ruined it. This is the message here, and while it's hardly like Egan is exaggerating, or that people don't need to hear it, it sort of got old. That, and the abundance of history sort of just made this not the book for me. Disappointing, because Egan is such a terr...more
Jonathan Hiskes
Each chapter explore a particular spot in the Northwest: the murky Olympic Peninsula, the churning mouth of the Columbia, the fertile Yakima valley farmlands, the colonial vestiges of Victoria, B.C. Egan probes geography, natural history, human history and culture in the roving reporter approach (he was a NY TImes Northwest correspondent for years). The book is dense, leisurely, and rich; the best introduction I've found to the various places of the Pacific Northwest. I'll re-read certain chapte...more
Andy
Some quality historical context of the Pacific Northwest, a fair amount of BS, and a whole lot of angst, this book provides good insight into some of the challenges associated with modernity and the ruthlessness of the religious zealots who pioneered the area. But in order to get through this book, you have to first get past the serious angst and overt dislike of just about everyone who is not 100% native American. The author either had serious self-conflict when he wrote this or his attempt at...more
Mary
Atop Mt. Rainier Egan checked the map to see which
glacier would best feed his grandfather's ashes down into
streams where the man had loved to fish. A minor glacier
called Winthrop looked best, and that's where the ashes went.
But subsequent research led to writings of one Theodore
Winthrop, who spent three months exploring the Northwest in
1853. Egan retraced Winthrop's route, sometimes by canoe,
and we get fascinating comparisons between what the two men
saw--same places, very different times,...more
Mary Whisner
A pretty good journalistic tour through the Pacific Northwest.

One sentence surprised and annoyed me: Egan met up with a park ranger who was a woman and in writing chose to refer to her as "a rangerette." I couldn't believe that he did that and that his editor let it by. But, what the heck, everyone makes mistakes and one poorly chosen word isn't the end of the world. I do like Egan's subjects, and I've gone on to read other books by him. He's got good writing chops, and hasn't repeated that "ran...more
Martha
If you love the Northwest, you should read this book. Egan's first book is a thorough look at the landscape, the people, and the history of the region. Even though it has been twenty years since it was published, it is still incredibly relevant. Egan is an environmentalist and an outdoorsman and a lot of the book is about water and trees. He talks about how the landscape has shaped the people and how the people have shaped the landscape.

I learned a lot about my home and Egan has inspired me to e...more
Lacorota
Just remembered I read this book a really long time ago and loved it. It's one of few non-fiction I read. I read it on a friend's suggestion. He suggested it because I was interested in contemporary (then) science regarding ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest. As one, then, who didn't read much, this one kept me interested. Egan writes well, and he was or yet is a journalist for the N.Y. Times. Another of his I didn't read was a title called Breaking Blue. Same pal suggested it as well.
Carol
NY Times correspondent read Winthrop's book "The Canoe and the Paddle" written in the early 1800's about his impressions of the seeing the Northwest for the first time. Egan follows his travels down Puget Sound and up the Columbia filling in the history that led to current (1990's) environmental issues. He interviews people to make his points about dams, foresting, and other man made attempts to control the landscape. Fascinating information. A bit depressing at times.
Steve
Egan takes you on a tour of various towns, cities, rivers, mountains, etc that make the Pacific Northwest the fascinating place that it is. Covers both the history and current (circa 1990) goings-on. I enjoyed learning more about the settlement of Victoria, how the Olympic Peninsula was largely ignored for quite some time, and the generally sad tale of resource extraction/environmental degradation in the greater Pacific Northwest.
Julie
Even though Egan wrote this book over 20 years ago, it was not very dated and explored issues (clear cutting of ancient forests, depletion of salmon stocks, damming the rivers of the Northwest, among other topics) that are relevant today. The book was well-written and thoroughly researched, and I learned many things I didn't know about this place where I've lived for almost half of my life. Highly recommended.
Gia Chevis
I didn't enjoy it quite as much as his later book, The Worst Hard Time, but it was still very well done and fascinating. Makes me want to visit and research what has happened since it was penned. Rounded up from 4.5 stars.
Dee
Egan is the NW correspondent for the NY Times. He traveled the Lewis and Clark Trail to write this book. It intertwines the exploration of the Northwest with it's history. This is a must read for all Northwesterners. I don't read too much non-fiction, but this book keeps your interest..in fact...until it's over you'll be doing little else except turning pages.
Peter
Really well researched, well laid out book browsing through NW history and our relationship with salmon, waterways, and growth. It was difficult to connect with his writing in a few places, but there is a wealth of information showing through in even the slowest parts of the book. Certainly worth the read, but be prepared to wade through some sections.
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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
More about Timothy Egan...
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West Breaking Blue

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“Sometimes the wind along the Pacific shore blows so hard it steals your breath before you can inhale it.” 10 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.” 3 likes
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