Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of

Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast 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. If you re from South Louisiana and you don t read this book, your Louisiana Card should be revoked. The Cajun coast of Louisiana is home to a way of life as unique, complex, and beautiful as the terrain itself As award winning travel writer Mike Tidwell journeys through the bayou, he introduces us to the food and the language, the shrimp fisherman, the Houma Indians, and the rich cultural history that makes it unlike any other place in the world But seeing the skeletons of oak trees killed by the salinity of the groundwater, and whole cemeteries sinking into swampland and out of sight, Tidwell also explains why each introduction may be a farewell as the storied Louisiana coast steadily erodes into the Gulf of MexicoPart travelogue, part environmental expos , Bayou Farewell is the richly evocative chronicle of the author s travels through a world that is vanishing before our eyes 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. 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 togetherLouisiana 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 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 togetherLouisiana 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 Of course, as we all know post Katrina Rita, they provide also provide buffers from storm surge For a variety of reasons almost all the consequence of either oil gas drilling or the maintenance of the Mississippi s shipping channel via the Corps of Engineers maintained levee system, Louisiana s wetlands are disappearing at a rate of about a football field every 38 minutes.As Tidwell goes to great pains to show, this is not an abstraction, but has tangible and immediately obvious consequences on both the landscape and the communities who depend on these wetlands Like many nature writers, he veers quickly and often in the purplest of proses his metaphors are strained at times, particularly when describing something beautiful, and in his reverence for a simpler way of life on the bayou, he risks fetishizing his subject Such is often the case with nature and travel writing I was able to get past these stylistic issues because the analysis and the reportage is so meaty Wholeheartedly recommonded A moving personal account of the cultures that survive on the edge of America, mostly Cajun but also Houma and Vietnamese Written in 2003, its dire predictions and warnings hurt evenin 2018 as the world stumbles towards an environmental disaster Tidwell clearly sees It was also interesting to read a work about aunique cultural diversity, instead of a hip slogan we mumbled on the way to the same melting pot mall to quote Tidwell The current diversity debate, itself lacking aA moving personal account of the cultures that survive on the edge of America, mostly Cajun but also Houma and Vietnamese Written in 2003, its dire predictions and warnings hurt evenin 2018 as the world stumbles towards an environmental disaster Tidwell clearly sees It was also interesting to read a work about aunique cultural diversity, instead of a hip slogan we mumbled on the way to the same melting pot mall to quote Tidwell The current diversity debate, itself lacking athorough discussion of culture and class, pales a bit compared to this this work For one, Bayou Farewell was written without the condescension ofcontemporary works that pathologize, rather than empathize, with whites in the countryside In addition, it is before the current racial debate placed whites into a homogeneous mass as evidenced in most Coates essays at The Atlantic rather than seeing the differences between said cultures Tidwell s honesty, perceptiveness, and empathy is sorely lacking in the current culture war Most accurate description I ve read of coastal Louisiana and Cajun culturehe 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. 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. I read this book shortly after Katrina Here s the review I wrote on.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 bedramatic 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 I read this book shortly after Katrina Here s the review I wrote on.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 bedramatic 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 wetlands It s turning fresh water into salt, drowning native grasses, oak trees, cemeteries, and small towns Changes in the fragile chemistry of the wetlands endangers oysters and crabs Eventually the migration route for the white and brown shrimp will disappear The people of this area are in retreat Louisiana fishermen supply an astonishing 30 percent of American s annual seafood harvest, measured by weight When the wildlife is gone and the people are relocated to higher ground, we all lose In recent years, many of us have experienced the unique culture of Sout Loosiane by traveling to New Orleans and perhaps cruising down Bayou Black or Lafourche Many of us know Louisiana through movies like The Big Easy and books such as Heaven s Prisoners by James Lee Burke And most of us have fallen in love with the food, the shrimp okra gumbo, the blackened red fish, the crawfish etoufee Would there be the BAM of Emeril without Cajun food What s Cajun food without Louisiana shrimp, red fish, oysters, and crabs The state s plight is everyone s problem and Tidwell s book takes you deep into the heart of the swamp Writing before Katrina and Rita, Tidwell relates his journey through the wetlands via shrimp trawlers, crab boats, and oil company supply ship He hitch hikes down bayous and canals, meeting and talking with Cajuns, the Houma tribe, Vietnamese settlers, and the environmentalists who are trying to wake up America to this continuing tragedy Author and Louisianan Burke says Bayou Farewell is The best book on Louisiana I have ever readstunning, beautifully written, and I have to add that it s a jolting call to arms for the coastline along the Gulf of Mexico It reminds me of Rachel Carson s Silent Spring, a book length essay about man s responsibility to the planet and to ourselves Silent Spring changed the way we think about our custodial duty to the environment and Bayou Farewell admonishes us as to how we have forgotten that duty Over thousands of years, the Mississippi has built the delta that makes up Southern Louisiana The estuary and its wildlife developed because of the river s constant deposit of sediment at its mouth This natural process has been interrupted by man and levee system which now takes that sediment and dumps it over the continental shelf and into the Gulf of Mexico In other words, Louisiana wetlands are being starved of its nourishment of dirt, mud, silt, sand As the sediment is denied into the area, the salty waters of the Gulf are filling the void, moving farther and farther inland The end result is the disappearance of the land, the creatures that inhabit it, and a unique way of life There are solutions to help rebuild the coastline and estuaries, but Tidwell warns us to take action now At the rate of twenty five miles per year, that gives us maybe thirty years before it s all gone I urge you to read Bayou Farewell and tell others to read it Send it to your congressman Thanks for your attention and time 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 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 a hard time making a living wage in Louisiana, but the author explores the question of Why and documents what is happening to the people who are choosing to stay A culture is being lost along with land at a very swift pace A great read, even though it does make me sad to think of the future or lack thereof of Louisiana and the Cajun culture


About the Author: Mike Tidwell

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 s Cajun Coast His newest book, focusing on Katrina and global warming, is titled The Ravaging Tide Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America s Coastal Cities Tidwell s most recent documentary film, We Are All Smith Islanders, vividly depicts the dangers of global warming Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.Tidwell has been featured in numerous media outlets including NBC s Meet the Press, NPR, the New York Times and the Washington Post He is also the co host of the nationally syndicated radio show Earthbeat, which features ground breaking global warming news and interviews live from the nation s capital.In 2003, Tidwell received the Audubon Naturalist Society s prestigious Conservation Award Two years later he received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana On Earth Day 2010 the 40th anniversary of Earth Day the Montgomery County Council named Tidwell one of the County s top 40 environmental leaders over the past 40 years A long time resident of Maryland, Tidwell lives in Takoma Park with his eleven year old son Sasha.


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