Wednesday, September 7, 2016


I reviewed The Texas Landscape Project: Nature and People (Texas A&M University Press) by David A. Todd and Jonathan Ogren for Lone Star Literary Life. This is a beautiful atlas packed with information and fascinating facts. An impressive achievement, this one belongs on every Texan's bookshelf. From the review:
A tremendous effort, The Texas Landscape Project is brimful of fascinating facts well organized and intuitively presented, divided into five sections: land, water, air, energy, and “the built world,” then further subdivided. Even the process is engaging, as Todd and Ogren explain how they became detectives in many instances, ferreting out clues in such sources as branding registries, the openings and closings of small-town post offices, and flood contour lines, when straightforward historical data was missing.
This vast amount of information is enhanced by hundreds of graphics, including maps, aerial photography, tables, drawings, and graphs. Summaries of the issues and the factors that impact each, including politics, economics, legislation, regulation, and environmental justice, are clear and concise. Lest anyone think this a dry exercise, these summaries are interspersed with entertaining and provocative prose, poetry, and lyrics. 
The atlas presents balanced perspectives and is not merely a (long) list of problems, such as: subsidence (Houston is sinking), invasive nonnative species of flora and fauna, water shortages, and suburban sprawl; but also an (admittedly shorter) account of successes: sea turtles and bighorn sheep back from the brink, the shrinking of the ozone hole over the Gulf Coast, experiments in water-rights reform, and lowering the state’s carbon footprint with wind energy. A raft of innovative possible solutions is included: wildlife appraisals and co-ops, revitalizing urban cores to combat sprawl, the Dark Skies movement to limit light pollution, and rewards for protection of the High Plains playas, to name a few. 
In addition, you can win Texas trivia contests and bar bets with odd facts, such as that time Dallas wanted to build a Trinity barge canal. To the Gulf Coast. For ocean-going commerce.
Click here to read the entire review. Thank you!

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