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Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest (Hardcover)
Jack Nisbet, a PNBA Book Award winner and bestselling author, is a highly regarded chronicler of landscape and the human story in the Northwest. In this essay collection, Nisbet reveals how the land shaped the people and how the people shaped the land.
Ancient Places is an assembly of nonfiction stories about the interplay between people and the landscape where they happen to live. Drawing on a range of fresh personal research, both oral and written, author Jack Nisbet (Sources of the River, The Collector) engages some of the iconic images in Northwest history: from fossil riches to ice age floods; from the Willamette Meteorite to the 1872 Earthquake; from up-and-down mining cycles to steady rounds of tribal food gathering. Although the scale of time and space in some of the pieces is immense, individual characters still manage to leave their marks; even though the force of modern civilization sometimes seems overwhelming, small places and their key components somehow persevere.
These are the genesis stories of a region. In Ancient Places, Jack Nisbet uncovers touchstones across the Pacific Northwest that reveal the symbiotic relationship of people and place in this corner of the world.
About the Author
JACK NISBET is a historian, teacher, and author focusing on the intersection of human history and natural history in the Pacific Northwest. His books include Sources of the River (recipient of the Washington Governor's Award and winner of the Murray Morgan Prize from the Washington State Historical Society), The Mapmaker's Eye (named one of The Best Nonfiction Books of the Year by The Seattle Times), The Collector (a Pacific Northwest Book Award winner) and Visible Bones. He lives in Spokane, Washington.
I can think of no better guide to this corner of the west than the lyrical naturalist Jack Nisbet, whose latest, Ancient Places, is a fascinating read.
—Jess Walter, author of We Live in Water
Jack Nisbet peels back the landscapes of the Northwest to uncover layers of meaning in unexpected places. He encourages us to look with a new, but also eons-old, light on mountains and rivers, traditional cultures and more recent settlers. With Ancient Places, Nisbet shows again that he is a leading chronicler of the region.
—Peter Stark, author of Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire
Master historian Nisbet has communed with Indians, astronauts, miners, and scientists to reveal a wonderfully personal, engaging, and authoritative picture of the cultural and natural history of the Inland Northwest. Ancient Places takes the reader from the earliest geological events that defined the region to the human and environmental forces at work today.
—John Marzluff, author of Welcome to Subirdia and Gifts of the Crow
In Ancient Places, author Jack Nisbet masterfully illuminates the lively chemistry that exists between people, their history, and the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Through his copious research of the region’s geology, natural ecosystems, cultural events, and people, Nisbit weaves compelling tales that give insight to this remarkable land. He explores the forces and events that shaped it and how we in turn are shaped by the places where we live.
—Marcy Houle, author of The Prairie Keepers
Through a half-dozen or more books, Jack Nisbet has shown himself to be an astute interpreter of Pacific Northwest history, an insightful naturalist and an excellent storyteller . . . [Nisbet has] a scientist’s curiosity, an artist’s eye for detail and a writer’s sense of what shapes a good story. These essays offer a generous sampling of the range of Nisbet’s talents.
—The Seattle Times
Through Nisbet's eyes, there's wonder all around us . . . Nature is central in each of the 10 chapters, for sure, but it's the people he profiles who add depth and color to the big picture . . . Nisbet wants us to look so we don't miss those many-splendored things — to see, as he shows in Chapter One, a wonder like the Northern Lights. Aristotle nailed it: All those tiny motes do add up to something truly marvelous.
Spokane-based writer Jack Nisbet is a treasure for anyone interested in the ways natural history, landscape and human cultures intersect in the Pacific Northwest . . . From the Colville Valley to Lake Pend Oreille, Okanagan Highlands to Grand Coulee, Nisbet deftly connects past to present, human to nature.
In his books about David Thompson and David Douglas, the author did extensive research into the written records left by these early settlers. Now he goes one step further to seek modern information about the Ice Age Floods, the Willamette Meteorite, the 1872 Earthquake, the aurora borealis, and rich deposits of terra cotta clay---the genesis stories of the region . . . Throughout the essays in Ancient Places, Nisbet correlates modern science with the journals of early fur traders, terra-cotta brick makers, collectors, and native peoples. The reader gains knowledge of museums, plants, ants, huckleberries and lucky kicks that unravel mysteries and secrets held in the landscape.
—Mountain West News
These essays are a literary cabinet of curiosities, undisciplined in focus, but interesting to peruse.
Nisbet, a teacher, shares the rich history of the Pacific Northwest through stories on the area’s geography, topography and biology, not to mention its people and their relationship with the land. Don’t miss the chapter in which his students come face-to-face with a giant mound of thatching ants.
. . . this is a compelling collection of stories about the natural and human history of our region.
Nisbet shares riveting accounts of the floods 15,000 years ago to the controversy over the ownership of the Oregon meteor — events which shaped the Pacific Northwest as we know it today.
“Ancient Places shows Nisbet at his finest, revealing his unique abilities to see and observe, to write and articulate, and most of all to convey the essence of place.”
—Rain Taxi Reviews
"The Pacific Northwest's leading historian picks through his cabinet of literary curiosities to tell great tales about its nature and ancient peoples."