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The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi and Its Peoples, from Hernando De Soto to Hurricane Katrina

Coming Soon
First long-term environmental history of the Lower Mississippi Valley
Timed to publish on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
Puts a U.S. region into a global context, comparing it with other similar environments, from West Africa to the Netherlands to Bangladesh

By: Christopher Morris (Author)

336 pages, 40 illustrations

Oxford University Press USA

Paperback | 2017 | #232673 | ISBN-13: 9780190610760
Available for pre-order: Due Mar 2017 Details
NHBS Price: £18.99 $24/€22 approx
Hardback | Sep 2012 | #195689 | ISBN-13: 9780195316919
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £23.49 $30/€28 approx

About this book

In the first long-term environmental history of the Mississippi, Christopher Morris offers a brilliant tour across five centuries as he illuminates the interaction between people and the landscape, from early hunter-gatherer bands to present-day industrial and post-industrial society. Morris shows that when Hernando de Soto arrived at the lower Mississippi Valley, he found an incredibly vast wetland, the largest in North America, but by the 1890s, the valley was rapidly drying. Morris reveals how centuries of increasingly intensified human meddling – including deforestation, swamp drainage, the introduction of foreign species of animals and plants, and levee construction – led to drought, disease, and severe flooding.

Valley residents have been paying the price ever since, most visibly with the disaster that followed Hurricane Katrina. Morris concludes that the problem with Katrina is the problem with the Amazon Rainforest, drought and famine in Africa, and fires and mudslides in California – it is the end result of the ill-considered bending of natural environments to human purposes.

"Christopher Morris has molded a thoroughly researched, smartly organized, and thoughtfully argued book."
– Jack E. Davis, Journal of American Studies


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