The Harvard biologist EO Wilson wrote that chopping down the rainforest to make money is like burning a priceless Renaissance painting to cook a meal. Proulx wants us to see the loss of wetlands in the same way – and to appreciate the beauty in these swampy and often stinking places. Boy, does she succeed. The prose is just magnificent ... She is particularly adept at describing the ebb and flow of estuarine waters that define these shifting and unpredictable places ... perhaps what’s most interesting about the book is her refusal to engage in the usual left versus right political debate ... Instead, Proulx makes a more difficult and unsettling argument: that we are all, in our own way, complicit in the environmental despoliation happening around us. She doesn’t blame Donald Trump or Joe Biden – her beef is with the Judeo-Christian belief that creation is made for humans, meaning we can use the world as we wish.
... an information-packed short history that argues for their preservation and restoration ... As a nonscientist, Proulx explains in accessible language how fens, bogs and swamps differ by water level and vegetation, and how crucial each of these ecosystems is to a balanced environment ... One of Proulx’s chapters is called 'Discursive Thoughts on Wetlands,' which sums up her approach. She ranges widely, both thematically and geographically, from the small Limberlost Swamp in Indiana to the huge Vasyugan Swamp in Siberia. She considers plenty of archaeology, history and literaturealong the way, sprinkling in reminiscences of her own wetland encounters as well.
The author’s accounts are wide-ranging and discursive, and they invite an attentive reader to pursue further investigation of many tantalizing topics, from the drowned Doggerland that once connected the British Isles to the European continent, to the unhappy history of English enclosure laws, to the ongoing efforts to restore drained marshes in southern Iraq ... Proulx wears her passion prominently on her sleeve, but — unlike in a work of fiction — it feels appropriate here.