At first glance, "Finding the River" seems to be about dams and salmon and an oddly specific river in the Pacific Northwest.
However, author Jeff Crane peels back the many layers surrounding the recent removal of the Elwah and Glines Canyon dams which have starved the river of its salmon for decades. Crane uses this topic as a jumping off point for a larger discussion involving the native Klallam Indian culture, the nature and evolution of environmental discourse in America, the role of state and federal government in environmentalism, and what the restoration of the Elwah river means in a larger context of a nationwide environmental movement. Each one of these topics, Crane handles with care and is very aware of the scholarship that came before him (I say this with in mind the first chapter over the Klallam Indians and his treatment of Richard White in his conclusion).
Through his meticulous and careful writing, Crane successfully infuses the topics of river restoration and environmentalism with subtlety and nuance. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read William Cronen's "Changes in the Land" or anyone who is interested in environmental history or ecology.