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Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast
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Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  602 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Mike Tidwell knew nothing of the disappearing bayou country when he first visited the Cajun coast of Louisiana, but the evidence was all around him: the skeletons of oak trees killed by the salinity of the groundwater, whole cemeteries sinking into swampland and out of sight, telephone poles in deep, standing water. Thanks to human hands, the storied Louisiana coast was er ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Pantheon Books (first published 2003)
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Nov 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best non fiction books I've read. Tidwell does an excellent job of describing a very complex environmental and social problem with many of the details included, while making it interesting and easy to read. His experiences in the Bayou with the peoples that live on the land there are phenomenal. This book is an excellent suggestion for anyone interested in either environmental, social or travel stories. I would like to have all Americans read it.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is concerned about the environment Lousiana etc
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book shortly after Katrina. Here's the review I wrote on Amazon.

According to Michael Tidwell, in his book Bayou Farewell, twenty-five miles of Louisiana coastline disappear each year. That's 25. 2-5. And this statistic may be more dramatic in the wake of Katrina and Rita, yet most of us are unaware of what is happening in the estuaries of Southern Louisiana. The state's rich supply of wildlife, animal, marine, and avian, is threatened by the advance of the Gulf of Mexico into the wet
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Louisiana and/or Cajuns
Recommended to Desiree by: found via Amazon from similar book review
Hands down, a must read for anyone who loves Louisiana and/or the Cajun culture. A fascinating, but sad look at the state of the culture and the State of Louisiana. As a native Louisianian, I found it difficult to read this book as it made me sad to see what's happening to the place where I was born and raised. This place is so special to me, but just like many of my fellow Cajuns, I have fled the state in search of better job opportunities. It's sad to see that a smart, motivated individual has ...more
Aug 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In June, I filled in with an ecology lab at LSU's Dept. of Oceanography and Coastal Studies (basically, my friend Joe threw me a bone). This was a great way to close out my time in Louisiana--finally seeing (and trudging through) the disappearing wetlands of the state. And this book helped me pull it all together...

Louisiana contains fully 40% of the nation's wetlands, and as Tidwell explains, these aren't just mosquito-breeding fields, but rich ecosystems upon which the entire nation depends. O
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Most accurate description I've read of coastal Louisiana and Cajun culture...he does a great job of capturing the feeling of being in South Louisiana, especially the food, the people, and unfortunately the disappearing coast. I've never been so sad, proud, and hungry all at the same time while reading a book. While reading on the subway I looked up several times shocked to see that I was in NYC and not on a boat somewhere in a bayou.
The southern coast of Louisiana, consisting of marshy wetlands, small islands, and miles upon miles of twisting and turning bayous, is the fastest disappearing landmass on earth. And yet almost no one outside of Louisiana has heard anything about this looming environmental disaster. The southern coast contributes billions of dollars each year to the state’s economy and Louisiana alone produces around 30% of the nation’s seafood. Not to mention the fact that the southern wetlands protect the rest ...more
Jack Perreault
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A poignant story of the disappearing wetland and an unfolding disaster. The story is told through living and working with the chief culture of the Bayou the Cajuns. The desire for oil without concern for environmental consequences has led to the disappearance of an acre of land every 20 min. and consequently the culture and homes and livelihood of the fishermen who live and work on the Bayou.
This book is about the coastal erosion of Louisiana. It is told by a man who traveled the bayous and bays of the La. coast with the people who live there. I like that it is about the people and not a just a sermon about how desperate the situation is along the coast. And the situation is extreme.
Erik Loomis
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a first rate book on the destruction of the bayous. Also a great book for understanding why Hurricane Katrina was so destructive. It's really sad admittedly, but Tidwell is a strong writer and it's enjoyable at the same time.
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thorough and engaging reporting about what is really happening to Louisiana's coast. Tidwell helps readers grasp the enormity of the problem, info you would hope that leaders/politicians and the Army Corps of Engineers would have, but it doesn't seem that way.
Feb 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're from South Louisiana and you don't read this book, your Louisiana Card should be revoked.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, very interesting people portrayed. Good insight into environ issues of the Louisiana coast and about shrimping, crabbing and oil extraction industry.
This was well-written but it was just so sad and depressing it was hard for me to make myself pick it up and read. I'm sure we'll have an interesting discussion at book club!
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very powerful book that explores the role man plays in the destruction of our very livelihood, even if that role was originally looked upon as helpful. We can never know the consequences of decisions that are made, but because we have the knowledge, the skills, the ingenuity we can restore and maybe prevent further tragedies. It takes everyone to care...individuals, communities and the state and federal governments. We have to look at long term results and try to eschew the short term view of ...more
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: read-2009
This book was special for me. It spoke of a place, of customs, and people I'd nearly forgotten because of distance and time put between us. Through weekly talks with my parents, emails of news articles, and reading of online bayou papers I've been kept informed of the disappearing Louisiana coast. My annual trips to the bayou also remind me how fast the land is sinking. I see the differences each year and they're not subtle differences. Places I used to walk, build 'camps', sit under trees and f ...more
Don Morgan
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book about 8 years ago. Tragically documents and states the fast disappearing land and sea life in Bayou country and how nature has contributed and the greatest negative impact by human activity, most related to the activities of the oil industry.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: north-america
It's always interesting to get an outsider's perspective on your own culture. Sometimes he understands it very well. At other times, he misses the mark. In this case, Mike Tidwell hits the mark very well. He includes Southern Louisiana folklore, mentioning swamp Cajuns, the Houma Indians, and the Vietnamese. He impressively integrates the folklore into his devastated story about the loss of Louisiana's coastline. The lives and cultures he describes sums up many Louisianan's experiences, especial ...more
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tidwell does an excellent job of highlighting the serious environmental threat to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana posed by saltwater intrusion into freshwater marshes. Every hour, a football-field sized area of the marsh goes underwater, permanently. And, as a result, hurricanes become exponentially more dangerous to towns that used to be miles from the coast and the fishermen that fish the coast's abundant marshes are facing the prospect of having to not only change jobs but change their lives, fro ...more
Sheather Nelson
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the personal stories, the great description, and the sort of outsider wonder at learning about the erosion and destruction of the Louisiana coast. As an environment reporter, I would have liked it a bit better if the author had not obviously been a travel writer amazed into writing an environmental/cultural book, because he sometimes acted so shocked by information that has been publicly available to not only scientists but politicians for decades. But then again, most Americans were ama ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-orleans
I'm not going to lie; this book was a hard read. Not because it was difficult, or the vocabulary was outside my abilities, but because it talked so plainly about the loss of coastal wetlands in south Louisiana.

Journalist Mike Tidwell hitched rides of shrimp boats, crab boats, oil rig tenders and more to write what he thought would be an interesting travel story. Instead, what he got was a story that caused him to quit his job and become an environmental activist (I am not kidding). He spent time
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't expect to like this book, but read it because my dad suggested it. (We don't always have the same taste). It's an enjoyable and educational read. I learned about the challenges facing the Gulf Coast that were put into play long before global-warming became known. I was shocked that this is happening in our own country, yet I know more about the loss of the Amazon Rainforest than what's happening in our own back yard. And, it can be fixed if as a country we make it a priority.

Anyone who'
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this over a decade after its initial release date, with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill having occurred within that span of time, I'm struck by how eerie and seemingly prophetic Tidwell's call-to-action feels in light of these disastrous events. Of course, there was nothing truly prophetic about it. The signs were all there, and the data had been accumulating for years. Until fairly recently, however, there had been no measure a la the Comprehensive Evergl ...more
David Ward
Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast by Mike Tidwell (Vintage Books 2003) (917.63). This is a tried and true environmentalist manifesto. It's partially a love song to Louisiana, to the Cajuns and the self-proclaimed “Coon-Asses” that live in the swamps, and to the Southwest Louisiana /French Canadian culture and way of life. It 's also partially a call to arms to support the movement to allow the Mississippi to build its levee wherever it sees fit, and certai ...more
Another favorite book. I learned a lot reading this book and enjoyed every word. I'm working 'how to preserve coastal Louisiana' into every conversation. I read a lot of this book out loud to my husband, we laughed so hard about some of the scenes, and I cried too. Even though we don't eat oysters, shrimp or crab I brought my kids to the seafood counter for a little education on these creatures and where they come from. Then I bought a CD of songs from the New Orleans area to benefit the people ...more
Alan Brinn
The author traveled extensively through the Louisiana coastal wetlands, driving, hitchhiking on boats, working and living with the Cajuns, Native Americans and Vietnamese who fish in the bayou and work for the oil companies. There are lyrical descriptions of the bayou country itself. You learn about these isolated cultures and how they are threatened by the destruction of the wetlands. You get a real feel for what it would be like to live in this unique eco-system. This is a gripping non-fiction ...more
Patrick Dean
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding piece of writing about Southern Louisiana, its ongoing environmental devastation, and the vivid, tough, endearing people who live there.

Tidwell pulls no punches about the tragedy caused by the loss of Mississippi River siltation, thanks to a century of misguided Corps of Engineers behavior. However, the book offers a realistic sense of hope, mainly by way of its fascinating portraits of the Cajuns, Vietnamese, and Houma Native Americans who struggle not only with the deman
I thought I'd skim this book and put it away, but it grabbed my imagination and wouldn't let go until I finished the entire thing. This work is something every American should read. It's an insight into American identities, and glimpse into a part of the world that is rarely seen. It's easy to forget that in today's world there are still people and cultures within the States that are not well documented, purposefully insular, and perhaps fading away. This theme is partnered with the harsh realit ...more
Nov 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not something I would've normally picked up but was assigned to through a class and I'm glad I read it.

Mike Tidwell renders the sheer beauty of the bayou life, surroundings, and diverse culture with precise detail in this book. If you didn't know anything about the bayou and the environmental struggles still going on, you will by the time you're done with this.

Tidwell did an amazing job at seamlessly interlacing information with narrative as he traverses the bayou, meeting a slew of col
Ann Porter
I learned a lot from this book - from the life cycle of the brown shrimp to the traditions of the healing traiteur in the United Houma Nation. The book covers a broad scope of cultural and natural topics with an eye that never wavers from the theses: that the Louisiana coast is disappearing; that we will lose cultural and natural treasures forever if it's allowed to continue; and that fixing the problem is possible, but we have to MOVE. And QUICKLY.

What was most astonishing to me about this book
Oct 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book is more than overdue. Tidwell's style is investigative and it fits well with The subject: The Death of Lousiana's Wetlands. While many think America is merely losing beautiful coast land every day, Tidwell is quick to elaborate that entire industries are being lost as well. The reader learns who is responsible for the declining area of wetlands and why policy is slow to take shape addressing the issue. This is a really good read for people already interested in the subject but possibly ...more
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Mike Tidwell is founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and DC. He is also an author and filmmaker who predicted in vivid detail the Katrina hurricane disaster in his 2003 book Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’ ...more
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