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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  ·  876 ratings  ·  115 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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
"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
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.
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,
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.
I just loved this; he is such a good writer. Reading it more than 20 years since published, the commentary on current/recent events still seems relevant and the interpretation of earlier history still up to date with our understanding. The chapters helped deepen my understanding of several places that I have been to and some others that I hope to visit. It might be experienced as a depressing read, given the litany of environmental degradation and the death/genocide of native peoples, but I didn ...more
Good way to start learning about the known natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Rose Zivkovich
Boring...and didn't really cover the region I was hoping for.
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
Great book about the Pacific NW
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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...
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 Breaking Blue Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West

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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.” 4 likes
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