One man's bold mission to save the world's last great salmon habitat – before it's too late.
In the tradition of Mountains Beyond Mountains and The Orchid Thief, Stronghold is Tucker Malarkey's gripping account of one man's determination to protect the world's last bastion for wild salmon. From a young age, Guido Rahr was a misfit among his family and classmates, preferring to spend his time in the natural world, on his family's land on the Deschutes River in Oregon. Over the years, as he became an expert fly fisherman, he noticed that each year fewer salmon were returning to their place of birth to spawn, and set out to learn why. What he discovered alarmed him; as the river homes of these fish became increasingly inhospitable to them, due to dams, industry, and climate change, the salmon of the Pacific Rim seemed destined to quickly go the way of the salmon who once filled the Atlantic Ocean: near extinction.
An improbable and inspiring story, Stronghold takes us on a wild and at times dangerous adventure – from Oregon to Alaska to one of the world's last remaining salmon strongholds, in the Russian Far East – a landscape of ecological richness and diversity that is rapidly being developed for oil, gas, minerals, and timber. As Rahr befriends and navigates scientists, conservationists, corrupt officials, Russian oligarchs, unexpected allies, and impenetrable bureaucracies, he reveals the astonishing natural history of the endangered salmon, an extraordinary species whose demise will reverberate across the planet. And he sets into motion a plan that can secure their survival.
Tucker Malarkey is a stunning writer who accompanies Rahr to the Russian wilderness and reports from up close. She has written a clarion call for a sustainable future, a beautiful and riveting account of a species whose future is closely linked to that of our own.
Tucker Malarkey spent four years working on the Foreign Desk of The Washington Post and then with columnist Haynes Johnson on the book Sleepwalking through History, a bestselling account of the Reagan years. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and is the author of the novels An Obvious Enchantment and Resurrection. She taught writing workshops in Portland's public school system and was a founding editor of Tin House magazine, a literary journal based in Portland and New York.
"An astonishing story, grippingly told, with the inspiring example at its heart of a man for whom the wellbeing of the natural world is the only goal. It is a story to counter any sense of despair. Tucker Malarkey, in one intriguing twist and turn after another, has shown that, with the application of rare talent, with luck and at some personal cost, real good can in the end be done."
– Adam Nicolson, author of The Seabird's Cry
"A powerful and inspiring story. Guido Rahr's mission to save the wild Pacific salmon leads him into adventures that make for a breathtakingly exciting read."
– Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia
"Stronghold lets us tag along on the unpredictable adventure that is loving nature, and spares us neither its sacrifices nor its rewards. It's a book for everyone who has wished for a place where life is defended and upheld – for a place on earth that will make us whole."
– Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl
"The wild salmon is the world's most wondrous, most improbable fish, with a life that is epic, heroic, and tragic. Malarkey's narrative action, pacing, and human hero – Guido Rahr – all rise to the level that the subject requires. With our nets, dams, and clear-cutting, we do salmon no favors and add greatly to their tragedy. This book is about a man who is in many ways a passionate master of fighting for one of earth's living miracles. And within his story are many lessons for how to lead, get things done, and hold on to the imperative to keep at it – no matter what."
– Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and Beyond Words
"In this captivating narrative, Malarkey explores global salmon conservation through the prism of her enigmatic cousin Guido Rahr. A master fly fisherman, Rahr created the Wild Salmon Center nonprofit to preserve 'stronghold' rivers, those unspoiled by human development and found in only a few places, most notably Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. Malarkey effortlessly glides among topics, making for an excellent mix of adventure, geopolitical dealmaking, and ecological and environmental reporting."
– Publishers Weekly
"All fishermen know that we have to fight to save the waters we love. Stronghold tells a captivating story of the struggle to save the last great salmon rivers."
– Johnny Morris, founder/owner of Bass Pro shops, owner of Cabela's
"As a passionate admirer of all that mother nature provides to give life authentic meaning, I am in awe of wild salmon. Read Stronghold, the remarkable account of one man who is making a difference in our time on this precious planet."
– Tom Brokaw