Monday, April 11, 2011

"The Death & Life of Monterey Bay"

Sunday's Monterey Herald published the last installment of an excellent local history book called The Death & Life of Monterey Bay. Over the last several months I have been avidly following the saga of how our community's relationship with the bay evolved over the past few centuries from reckless abuse to loving respect.

If you only read one local history book in your lifetime, this should be it. I've read a few, and this is by far the most fascinating and engaging of them all. The authors form a palpable link between the places we know and love today and long-forgotten (until now) events of the past. Along the way we meet a host of colorful characters, like Julia Platt, a feisty Pagrovian who managed to make protection of offshore ecology official city policy, which in turn helped the bay recover from decades of abuse by the sardine industry. We also learned about the friendship between Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck, and Joseph Campbell before they became famous. And because the narrative takes place in locations we are intimately familiar with, it is not hard to imagine ourselves witnessing the events in our imaginations as if we were really there. 

More importantly, The book's lessons of the consequences of ecological exploitation and the benefits of environmental protection are applicable to environmental issues everywhere, so it's not just for fans of Monterey.

The Death & Life of Monterey Bay is available at local bookstores.