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King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon
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King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  147 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The salmon that symbolize the Pacific Northwest's natural splendor are now threatened with extinction across much of their ancestral range. In studying the natural and human forces that shape the rivers and mountains of that region, geologist David Montgomery has learned to see the evolution and near-extinction of the salmon as a story of changing landscapes. Montgomery sh ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 29th 2004 by Basic Books (first published October 8th 2003)
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Dana Stabenow
Oct 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I was raised in a commercial fishing community. I spent most of five years of my childhood on a fish tender. I live on the Kenai Peninsula and for the past seven Septembers I've fished for silvers in the Kenai River. (One year for a brief, magical moment I had a king on. It was like hooking onto a bolt of lightning.) Like everyone else on the Kenai I fight the traffic the last two weeks of July when dipnetting season is open. My cousin Hank is a commercial fisherman in Cordova. There have been f ...more
Dave Allen
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Basically the history of salmon, a must for any conservationist and salmon fisher or lover of salmon.
John Boettner
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
As an Aquatic Scientist I found this book to be a great read. Written by a geologist, this book provides alternate perspectives into the workings of freshwater systems with an historical outlook going back to the time of the Romans (indeed there is evidence that our ancestors from 9,000 years ago (Kennewick Man) consumed salmon).

This book also provides a look into the miraculous qualities of salmon as a resource that allow the population to withstand such environmental calamities as the Mt Sain
Jeremy Evans
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional coverage of the issues facing Salmon across the world. David R. Montgomery utilized centuries worth of sources to tell the paralleled stories of Salmon from the North Pacific, New England, and European regions. This book followed the story of the Salmon from its historical abundance to its current and depleted state. I appreciate the boldness of Montgomery in pointing out the failings of governments and wildlife agencies regarding the enforcement of laws designed to protect salmon ...more
Dec 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Salmon was once one of the commonest fishes in Europe, swarming up the Thames and the rivers of Gaul in Roman times. Laws to protect the fish date to 13th and 14th century England and Scotland: establishing the fishing season, and regulating the weirs. However, the Industrial Revolution brought about industrial pollution, and modern times brought trawlers catching the fish in massive numbers near Greenland, which caused European salmon to almost go extinct; only Norway, Ireland, Iceland and Scot ...more
Nov 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book goes through how salmon runs have collapsed in England, Germany, France, Japan, New England/Nova Scotia and the current collapse in the Pacific Northwest.

What I did not know was that the incredible runs that used to exist in the Pacific Northwest also used to exist in each of those other nations. In each case, the nations knew what they needed to do to save their runs and failed to do so. Before reading this book, I had a lot more faith in the idea that we know so much more than we di
Erin Harrington
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This absolutely amazing book has completely changed the way I think about and see salmon in Alaska, my home. Which is interesting, because it's not really even about Alaska.

Instead, this book treats 1,000 years of salmon/human history, looking at all the places where man and salmon have interacted and—all to commonly—salmon have lost. What's fascinating about this book is the lens it lends to a contemporary Alaskan, watching our people work to maintain our salmon cultures, livelihoods and econo
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Parts are very dry and academic, but this is otherwise an essential and sobering look at how centuries of mismanagement have come close to dooming wild salmon to extinction. Montgomery was strongest for me in talking about habitat and habitat restoration. His descriptions of the original Pacific Northwest ecosystem and how it perfectly supported salmon both intrigued and dazzled me. The chapters on hatcheries and hydropower (dams; the fourth "h" threatening salmon is harvest) were slightly dulle ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Phenomenal book, but chock-full of information. I could only read a little bit at a time because each page is packed with so much information, it could sometimes be a little overwhelming. However, it presents a thorough history of the worldwide popularity and subsequent decline of salmon (both Pacific and Atlantic), without pointing fingers at one definitive cause. Montgomery's writing style is friendly and invites readers of all backgrounds -- from those who know nothing about salmon to current ...more
Kelsey Breseman
A compelling environmental case study detailing how and why humans have caused salmon depletion across history and global locations.

The majority of the book has interesting and entertaining local history for England, the American Northeast, and the Pacific Northwest. In the concluding pages, Montgomery ties it all together in a compelling and powerful summary and set of recommendations.

In the author's own words: "Salmon are a very good, possibly too good, example of the disconnect between wantin
Daniel Brown
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
A well written book by this scientist, that explains the demise of salmon in so many places around the planet. It should serve as a warning of what might lose in places like Alaska if we don't begin taking care of habitat etc. It would be too bad if we didn't heed scientists warnings and lost what remains of this amazing resource. Unfortunately, as I learned from this book, there were many scientists or "naturalists" of their day warning about the same things back in the 1800's, and we didn't li ...more
Lorene Lynn
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This excellent story tells the human and natural history of salmon around the world starting with the earliest management techniques in Europe. Montgomery illustrates how salmon management has suffered from death by a thousand cuts. While many gallant efforts have been made to protect our salmon resources, human interests, most often economically driven, have overridden comprehensive salmon protection. These lessons from history serve as a valuable lesson for how to move forward with salmon mana ...more
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read even for someone like me raised on salmon stories since I was in kindergarten; our town had an annual parade in honor of salmon after all! I recieved an whole new perspective on what is causing the collapse of the salmon runs, what approaches have been tried and failed in England and France(who knew they had salmon there at one time?!) and what options we have to prevent a similar fate here. Excellent!
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a really thoughtful and well-researched book. I had no idea that salmon (which are so iconic to the Pacific Northwest) were once also plentiful throughout most of Western Europe, Asia, and the East Coast. It provides a very useful historical perspective of land use and how human activities have affected salmon throughout the ages.
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book made me afraid of eating any fish, especially salmon. I was very happy when he got to the chapter discussing Alaska, which said that the Alaska salmon fisheries are well-managed and doing fine. Sweet! I can go dip netting again this summer!
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
"The bottom line is that people have the freedom to change their behavior, whereas fish do not. If we are to save wild salmon, then some people will lose money or the ability to do things they wanted to do. But we all lose if we lose the salmon."
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Easy to read history of salmon conservation in the PNW. Glossed over tribal rights for the most part. Was required reading for a class.
Kimber Hellmers
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
A bit dry unless you are REALLY into the history of fish, and rocks, and the ocean - sort of. Salmon geeks will love it.
Dec 18, 2016 added it
A lovely book.

I don't rate books I read for scholarly purposes.
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David R. Montgomery is a MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington. He is an internationally recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies. An author of award-winning popular-science books, he has been featured in documentary films, network and cable news, and on a wide va ...more