Go Big Read: The Death and Life of the Great Lakes - Dan Egan - 10/16/2018 - 7:00pm

Go Big Read: The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

Shannon Hall

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is an ode to the majesty and history of this national, natural treasure. Egan, a master reporter and storyteller, begins with European explorers arriving at these shores for the first time in the 1600s. Egan takes the reader deep beneath the lakes’ shimmering surface to illuminate the ongoing and unparalleled ecological unraveling of the continent’s most precious natural resource, all while retaining a sense of awe and respect for their immensity and danger: “A Great Lake can swallow freighters almost three times the length of a football field; the lakes’ bottoms are littered with an estimated 6,000 shipwrecks, many of which have never been found. This would never happen on a normal lake, because a normal lake is knowable. A Great Lake can hold all the mysteries of an ocean, and then some.”


In an age when dire problems like the Flint water crisis and the California drought bring ever more attention to the indispensability of safe, clean, easily available freshwater, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Dan Egan has written an urgent and powerful wake-up call. Like Jane Jacobs’s classic book that inspired Egan’s title, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is critical of our current state of affairs while offering a sense of optimism, making a clear and convincing case for how our problems can be fixed. More than a decade in the making, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is an eye-opening, deeply reported, and compulsively readable portrait of our nation’s greatest natural resource as it faces ecological calamity.


Presented in partnership with Go Big Read.

Dan Egan

Dan Egan

Dan Egan is the Brico Fund Journalist in Residence at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center for Water Policy, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Death and Life of The Great Lakes. From 2002 to 2021, he covered the Great Lakes as a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Communication Award; Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award; AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award; and J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. Dan lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and children.

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