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Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  66 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
A memoir-meets-exposé that examines our fraught relationship with the West and our attempts to clean up a toxic environmental legacy
In 2002, Texas journalist Brad Tyer strapped a canoe on his truck and moved to Montana, a state that has long exerted a mythic pull on America’s imagination as an unspoiled landscape. The son of an engineer who reclaimed wastewater, Tyer wa
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Bill Vaughn
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it

There’s no place in the Treasure State that’s safe from its own history.

It’s my first coherent memory: Holding my mother’s hand, I’m wading with her in the shallow creek that flows behind our house. The stream is cool and lucid as it washes against my legs over white sand that sparkles in the summer sun. Pennyroyal and mint perfume the languid air. Frogs and turtles splash from shore to the haven of the water. When a fish brushes my foot I whoop with delight.

Four years later my mother, Nancy V
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Opportunity was born so that Anaconda could live, and now it's dying for Missoula's sake." [page 217]

Brad Tyer has written a revelatory, passionate, occasionally autobiographical, somewhat historical chronicle about the Clark Fork of the Columbia River, about a very small town named "Opportunity," about the human and planetary cost of extractive mining for metals, about the staggeringly high price of industrialization. Montana is one of the handful of the contiguous 48 United States I've never
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Texas expat Brad Tyer relocated to Montana on a whim and a dream, eager to leave Houston behind for the Last Frontier of the Lower 48. Tyer finds the bones of the Idea of Montana - grand vistas of mountains and glorious waterways - marred by the violent exploitation of Montana's vast copper reserves. "Opportunity, Montana" offers Tyer's vision of a land pillaged into lethality and a people in various stages of denial and acceptance.

Tyer, a journalist and die-hard canoeist, makes for a wonderful
Chris Gager
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well... I decided to pick this up before finishing with Rabbit Angstrom. Looks interesting and shouldn't take long. The author's style is a bit grandiose and overly ironic. Similar to Steinbeck, a writer he admires. It's about the trashing of the West for progress and profit. An old story... Brad Tyer looks a LOT like Jack Nicholson!

Slow going due to work but I'll be moving on tonight. Pretty interesting so far as we get bounced around from present to past in both the history of copper in Montan
Rob Slaven
As usual, I received this book because of the kind consideration of the author, the publisher and a GoodReads giveaway. Despite this bountiful and kind consideration I will provide my candid feedback below.

In a nutshell, this book is the story of a small town in Montana that, in the author's words, was "shit upon" and plundered by local industry over the course of decades in the pursuit of economic progress.

The author brings to light an important aspect of American culture and history. Much of t
Steven Howes
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a diligently-researched and well-written book. Nevertheless, it was difficult to read given the subject matter. While in small part the author's personal memoir, the book deals largely with the environmental aftermath of copper mining activity in and around Butte, Montana, beginning in the late 1800's and that is still taking place. The author discusses the history of copper mining in the area, including the era of the "Copper Kings", the rise and influence of the Anaconda Cop ...more
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first visited Anaconda, Montana when a college friend got her first job there and I drove over for a couple weekend visits. The smelter was running, the town was active, and the drive in from the Interstate highway went by an enormous flat-topped mountain of black--"stuff" that is hard to describe--not rock, not soil, not cinder, but something menacing, dark and dead. Opportunity, a residential area but not an incorporated town, was along this road. I have been fascinated ever since. Tyer's bo ...more
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Opportunity, Montana is a really good chronicle of the history of industrial scale mining operations in Butte and Anaconda, the almost absolute obliteration of my favorite river, and the "clean-up" and restoration process. This book also seeks to highlight the environmental injustices done to the small community of Opportunity, MT. Tyer does this by investigating the decision making processes of the agancies and buisnesses involved. He also interviews community members and many of the people inv ...more
Dan Oko
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am not disinterested in Brad's book. He arrived in Western Montana shortly after I departed, to take the job at the weekly newspaper where I worked. He uncovered a story that was familiar locally but not known to a wider audience about how the Clark Fork River had been poisoned by the tailings leftover from the Copper Mines of Butte, and how the tiny community of Opportunity, from which the book takes its name, was being rearranged as a result of federal SuperFund clean-up efforts. The resulti ...more
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
History of copper mining in Montana and its effects on the Clark Fork river which flows through Missoula into Lake Pend Orreille. It was a perfect read to start on Father's day, as it carries a autobiographical father/son subplot that weaves in and out of the book. Opportunity is where much of the waste from copper mining in Butte was placed throughout the century preceding the mine's closure. Current day cleanups of the Clark Fork left a problem of where to put the contaminated soil - the book ...more
Kelsea Dawn Hume
Brad Tyler sketches out the history of a frontier full of rich eccentrics, looted landscapes, and dire consequences. I found this scattered tale to be utterly enthralling at some points, utterly tedious at other points. I liked the history and the memoir, but only barely endured some of the nitty-gritty modern lawmaking.

Were I to classify this book I'd call it an environmental memoir with literary and historic reflections. Some passages of this book absolutely shone -- I read it again solely for
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brad Tyer does an outstanding job reporting objectively on the environmental damage wrought by mining and its impact on the environment and affected communities. I've read a lot of these types of environmental reporting books, but what sets this one aside is how Mr. Tyer inserts himself into the story. His juxtaposition of his relationship with his deceased father against his exploration of Montana's waterways and area-wide contamination from copper mining is clever and engaging. Surprisingly, t ...more
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this title at Fact & Fiction, that excellent bookshop in downtown Missoula, on a trip through Montana. This look at Big Sky Country may shatter the rose-colored glasses with which some people tend to view this iconic state. I was generally aware of the history and costs of resource extraction in this area but I’ll still never regard the Clark River quite the same, again. Mr. Tyer is a good journalist (and reveals a very personal side of himself, here) and combined with my interest in ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had to read this for my Montana History class. I was glad I read it and it was way more interesting than I expected it to be. I never would have read it if it wasn't for this class, but I doubt I'll ever read it again.
Susan Walker
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully interesting book. My Mother's relatives lived in Opportunity so we both enjoyed reading this book.
Marvin Soroos
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 15th-century
An interesting and informative book that will be most interesting to readers in the Missoula-Butte areas.
Apr 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Worthy but not interesting to me
Nov 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
lost interest
Brittany Jerlinga
rated it it was amazing
Oct 04, 2013
Leslie T
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Mar 18, 2015
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Jan 30, 2016
Richard Gibson
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Feb 19, 2013
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Oct 07, 2014
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Aug 01, 2017
rated it it was ok
May 15, 2013
Eric Dietrich
rated it it was ok
Nov 02, 2014
Mitch Grady
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Jul 01, 2013
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