Tracing America’s Complicated Relationship With Our Rivers

Jun 7, 2018

In his new book 'The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers,' author and river scientist Martin Doyle traces the nation’s complicated relationship with its waterways.
Credit Courtesy Martin Doyle

The history of rivers in America is a story of control, or at least an attempt at control. Early on, waterways determined where and how European settlers would live. Later, in the industrial age, humans would begin to exert their control over the rivers. Through massive projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority, Americans turned long rivers into a series of reservoirs and water into money-making energy. But in the process, they also drastically changed the ecosystems around the rivers.

Today efforts to bust dams and protect the land around rivers is helping to conserve and even bring about a resurgence in American rivers. In his new book “The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers” (W.W. Norton & Company), author and river scientist Martin Doyle traces the nation’s complicated relationship with its waterways. Doyle speaks with host Frank Stasio about his book and about the many people he met whose lives are inextricably tied to their rivers.