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Extended Audio Sample Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies, by Ginger Strand Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.89 out of 53.89 out of 53.89 out of 53.89 out of 53.89 out of 5 3.89 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ginger Strand Narrator: Karen White Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Americans call Niagara Falls a natural wonder, but the falls aren’t very natural anymore. In fact, they are a study in artifice. Water diverted, riverbed reshaped, brink stabilized, and landscape redesigned, the falls are more a monument to man’s meddling than to nature’s strength. Held up as an example of something real, they are hemmed in with fakery—waxworks, haunted houses, IMAX films, and ersatz Indian tales. A symbol of American manifest destiny, they are shared politely with Canada. Emblematic of nature’s power, they are completely human-controlled. An archetype of natural beauty, the falls belie an ugly environmental legacy still bubbling up from below. On every level, Niagara Falls is a monument to how America falsifies nature, reshaping its contours and redirecting its force while claiming to submit to its will.

Combining history, reportage, and personal narrative, Inventing Niagara traces Niagara’s journey from sublime icon to engineering marvel to camp spectacle. Along the way, Ginger Strand uncovers the hidden history of America’s waterfall: the Mohawk chief who wrested the falls from his adopted tribe, the revered town father who secretly assisted slave catchers, the wartime workers who unknowingly helped build the atomic bomb, and the building contractor who bought and sold a pharaoh. With an uncanny ability to zero in on the buried truth, Strand introduces us to underwater dams, freaks of nature, mythical maidens, and 280,000 radioactive mice buried at Niagara.

From LaSalle to Lincoln to Los Alamos, Mohawks to Marilyn, Niagara’s story is America’s story, a tale of dreams founded on the mastery of nature. At a time of increasing environmental crisis, Inventing Niagara shows us how understanding the cultural history of nature might help us to rethink our place in it today.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Strand’s provocative and iconoclastic book says much about how America has dominated nature, despoiled it and shrouded the offense in myth.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The text is playful, and narrator Karen White is well tuned to Strand’s approach.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Janet | 10/15/2009

    " Somewhat interesting history of Niagra but covered a lot of topics very briefly,the nuclear connection,the managing of the water supply,the production of power,even Marilynn Monroe (she starred in a movie filmed there). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Melissa | 9/10/2009

    " Read in conjunction with a trip to Niagara Falls - very eye opening and made me think differently about a icon of my childhood. Didn't enjoy the "academic lite" style - the book was well researched, so why not include the footnotes? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Laura | 6/6/2009

    " I love this kind of book -- it covers culture and history and environmental issues and city planning and people -- I want to read a book like this for every place I visit. Or I would like to write a book like this for every place I visit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Andy | 1/19/2009

    " No surprise, Niagara is a cesspool--no offense to cesspools everywhere. When I was 10 or so, I went on the "Maid of the Mist" boat under the falls, and I've suffered from asthma ever since. Or perhaps I'm just a hypochondriac. "

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About the Author

Ginger Strand grew up in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, but mostly on a farm in Michigan. The author of the novel Flight, she has published essays and fiction in many places, including Harper’s, the Believer, the Iowa Review, the Gettysburg Review, SwinkRaritan, the New England Review, and Orion, where she is a contributing editor. A former fellow in the Behrman Center for the Humanities at Princeton University, she has received residency grants from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the American Antiquarian Society, as well as a Tennessee Williams scholarship in fiction from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She lives in New York City.