Reviews of An Entirely Synthetic Fish

Halverson entertainingly introduces some of the most tangled questions in conservation biology: What is a species? What is native? What is natural? What is wild?
-  Science, April 2, 2010

With prose as engaging as it is thoughtful, Halverson has crafted an absorbing cautionary tale of ecological trial and error, documenting our tardy but increasing understanding of biological interdependence and its immeasurable value. 
-  Washington Post, February 28, 2010

This isn't one of those books that only fly-fishermen will like An Entirely Synthetic Fish is a compelling cautionary tale about how the systematic introduction and massive cultivation of rainbow trout for fishing changed America's waterways, both for better and for worse.
Outside, December 2010

Make no mistake, this book is a major event in the history of angling and ecological analysis. It needs to become the stuff of every angler's conversation and practice. And it's such a pleasure to read!
Gordon Wickstrom, American Angler, May/June 2010

One of the year’s most delightful works of nonfiction, a slim, quietly compelling volume that combines the leisurely literary style of an essayist with the tenacious curiosity of an investigative reporter
-  Bruce Barcott, Yale Alumni Magazine, May/June 2010

Great read. I'm in the middle of it. Drop everything and buy it.
-  Ted Williams, Fly Rod and Reel, March 18, 2010

Halverson is a thorough researcher and a fine storyteller. . .It's an engrossing read – one that’s hard to put down, and just as hard to forget. . .
Tom Chandler, Trout Underground, December 13, 2010

Halverson treats the history of rainbow trout like a detective story and interviews or writes about a cast of fascinating characters.
-  The Quarterly Review of Biology, June, 2012

Halverson weaves a rainbow of colorful characters into a historically rich narrative and provides some powerful insights that will interest a wide readership
-  Bioscience, March, 2012

A remarkably well-researched and well-plotted story that's part science, part history, and part sociology . . . all of which are very interesting and entertaining.
-  Kirk Deeter, Angling Trade, September 2010

A pivotal book, one to separate cleanly those who have read it from those who have not.
-  Gordon Wickstrom, The American Fly Fisher, Summer 2010

Intelligent, fair-minded and uncommonly readable. . .the book's central appeal is in fact the story itself, or the stories themselves.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 25, 2010

A well-paced, completely absorbing tale of how man and trout have changed the landscape of the planet.
Ralph Cutter, California Fly Fisher

Halverson's book is a microhistory, an examination of America's involvement with a favored fish that sheds light on broader truths regarding our recent relationship with the natural world.
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 28, 2010

The book tells how, with the best of intentions and the worst of outcomes, rainbow trout took over American rivers, lakes and streams.
Seattle Times, February 27, 2010

Halverson traces the history, cultivation, and dissemination of rainbow trout, the politics of sport fishing, and various other well-intended programs with unintended consequences.
-  Samuel Snyder, Orion, July/August 2010

Halverson's history of trout fishing in America, therefore, comes as something of a revelation
-  Laurance A. Marschall, Natural History, February 2011

An enthralling and sometimes appalling story.
- New Scientist, June 29, 2010

A fascinating story of man’s urge to cultivate and disseminate a beautiful coldwater fish—at times to the detriment of native species but also the joy of anglers who would not otherwise have the opportunity to catch a trout. A gripping blend of early American history, discussions on taxonomy, and questions of how best to preserve wildness and the indigenous in a world where the human relationship to Nature is complex and always changing.
James Prosek, author of Trout of the World

In this brilliant study, Anders Halverson illuminates the astonishing history of the rainbow trout, a native of the tributaries of eastern and western Pacific coastal rivers, but introduced to at least 45 countries, and every continent except Antarctica. But why does he call it 'an entirely synthetic fish?' You'll have to read this remarkable book for the answer.
Richard Ellis, author of Tuna: A Love Story and On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear

The historical research, personal interviews, and putting it together has produced an outstanding piece of work.
Robert Behnke, Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University, and author of Trout and Salmon of North America

Anyone interested in life as metaphor will find here the fascinating historical story of how different people saw their highest ideals and aspirations through the lens of a single, uncommonly compelling fish. And like democracy—but with perhaps more success—they spread it around the world. This unusually well-written, interesting book deserves a place of honor for everyone who sees in trout more than ‘just’ a fish.
Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean, Eye of the Albatross, and The View From Lazy Point

A small book that could influence some big management issues if the right people read it.
Peter Moyle, Professor of Fish Biology, UC Davis and coauthor of Fishes: an introduction to ichthyology

This book rewards readers in two equally significant ways. First, it entertains us with stories of intrinsic interest and even mind-stretching improbability. Second, it invites us to be smarter and more congenial citizens, more inclined to think productively about our environmental challenges and dilemmas, and more prepared to rise above faction and return to regarding 'the public good.'
Patricia Nelson Limerick, Faculty Director of Center for the American West, and author of The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West and Something in the Soil: Legacies and Reckonings in the New West

 

Livingston Stone stands at the back of this small boat, guiding a fishing expedition for rainbow trout. The back of the photo reads "Trout expedition by Livingston Stone + Willard [or M~] Perrin." The photo was probably taken some time on the McCloud some time between 1879 and 1888. It is hard to say what method they were using to catch the fish--nets, rods, and traps were all employed by Stone and his crew.  Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone.
Boxing was as good a way to pass the time as any on the McCloud. Nothing was written on the back of this photo. It appears to have been taken at the main U.S. Fish Commission. Livingston Stone is visible sitting down in the background and the boxer on the left appears to be Loren Greene, one of Stone's first assistants.The photo is courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone.
Livingston Stone and his assistants had this portrait taken in San Francisco in 1873. Willard Perrin was Stone's nephew. There is some confusion about the identity of the man on the right. Although the front of the photo says it is Loren Greene, the back suggests it may have actually been Loren's brother Myron. The latter seems more likely as other records from the time state that it was Myron who went on the 1873 expedition.  Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, Stone's granddaughter.
An Attack. The men on the left appear to be Wintu Indians, and the men on the right to be from the U.S. Fish Commission. The subjects would have had to have stood very still for a long time to have produced such a clear picture; the photograph was clearly staged for the benefit of the photographer. However, similar confrontations were a very real phenomenon, especially in the early years of the U.S. Fish Commission's presence on the McCloud. Stone and his crew were threatened several times and other would-b
The crew of the U.S. Fish Commission builds a bridge across the McCloud with the help of a Wintu Indian (right).  Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone.
Stone and his crew seem to have enjoyed setting up scenes like this for the photographer. My guess is that they had built a more substantial headquarters building alongside the McCloud by the time this picture was made, but wanted to show the people back home what the early days had been like. To my eye it looks like Myron Greene on the left, Willard Perrin in the middle, and perhaps Stone on the right.  Photo courtesy of Beck McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone.
This drawing of a dam and water wheel was likely sketched by Stone or one of the other U.S. Fish Commission crewmembers on the McCloud. It looks like it might represent the dam and wheel in this photo.  Courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone.
There are no notes on this picture to indicate it's date or location. The dam and water wheel were probably built on the McCloud by the U.S. Fish Commission to catch fish or supply water to the hatchery and rearing ponds.  Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, Livingston Stone's granddaughter.
This portrait of Livingston Stone was taken some time after 1873 in San Francisco.  Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone
This portrait of Livingston Stone appears to have been taken before he grew his dundrearies and travelled to California.  Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone
This portrait of Livingston Stone, his wife Rebecca, and son Ned was taken by Thomas Houseworth, a famous San Francisco photographer. Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone
A picture of some Wintu Indians, the original inhabitants of the McCloud River area. Date unknown.  Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone
A portrait of the U.S. Fish Commission crew on the McCloud. Livingston Stone is in the back, second from left. Date and photographer unknown.  Photo courtesy of Becky McCue, granddaughter of Livingston Stone
Horsemen cross the McCloud River near the salmon station, probably around 1882.  National Archives 22-FFB-328
A portrait of some Wintu Indians on the McCloud River in 1882.  National Archives FFB-486
A group of Wintu taken about 1882.  National Archives 22-FFB-527
A portrait of a Wintu Indian
The trout breeding station on the McCloud
Two men sitting on a rock by the McCloud River
A view of the McCloud as it probably appeared when Stone and his crew first arrived.  National Archives 22-FFB-518
The site on the McCloud where Stone and his crew spawned salmon and trout for so many years is now hundreds of feet beneath Lake Shasta, at approximately the site where this photo was taken.  Photo by Anders Halverson
Fish culture has changed very little from the 19th century. First squeeze the eggs out of the ripe female by firmly sliding your fingers down the belly, then squeeze the milt out of the male. Swirl it around, and you're done. Provide them a safe place to develop and you'll have some nice fish in a year. This is John Riger at the Colorado Division of Wildlife's Crystal River Hatchery.  Photo by Anders Halverson
A closeup of Colorado Division of Wildlife's John Riger spawning rainbow trout.  Photo by Anders Halverson
A closeup of Colorado Division of Wildlife's John Riger spawning rainbow trout. Photo by Anders Halverson
Raceways at Colorado's Crystal River Hatchery.  Photo by Anders Halverson
Anders Halverson tries his hand, spawning rainbow trout at Colorado's Crystal River facility.
After they hatch, fish are raised in a rearing facility like this one. Here the manager of Colorado's Chalk Cliffs Rearing Unit, Chris Hertrich, examines some young fish, some of which I helped to spawn. They reside in a retrofitted castoff trailer from the Department of Corrections.  Photo by Anders Halverson
Here they are, the fish that I helped to spawn, a few months later at the Chalk Cliffs Rearing Unit.  Photo by Anders Halverson
Because they need abundant clear water, fish culture facilities tend to be located in beautiful places. This retrofitted trailer is part of Colorado's Chalk Cliffs Rearing Unit, in Nathrop, Colorado.  Photo by Anders Halverson
The California Department of Fish and Game pioneered aerial fish planting in the years following World War II. In this photo, taken about 1950 in Bishop, CA, Dave Ward, Lee Talbot, Carrol Faist, and Jim McGregor prepare to load an WWII-surplus Beechcraft C-45 with fingerlings.
After years of stocking the lakes of the Sierra Nevada using pack animals, the California Department of Fish and Game began using airplanes in the 1940s. Many of the lakes previously had no fish.
A diagram of a typical aerial fish planting run, drawn by one of the pioneers: Carrol Faist.
A group at the University of Missouri is studying the effects of creatine--the same supplement used by athletes like home-run slugger Mark McGwire--on rainbow trout. Here the fish swims in a Plexiglas tube to measure its endurance. "Sportsmen would likely pay a premium for a fishing experience where the fish struck the bait harder and fought longer," said one of the researchers in a press release.  Photo by Steve Morse
Adam Konrad caught world-record, 43-pound rainbow trout in a Saskatchewan lake. His prize probably escaped from a nearby aquaculture facility and had been manipulated to contain an extra set of chromosomes—a feature that makes such fish grow much faster and larger than normal.  Photo courtesy of Otto and Adam Konrad
Loading a plane with fish for stocking in Lake Powell.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4572
Stocking rainbow trout in Lake Powell  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #5066
Putting fingerling trout in a plane for stocking in Lake Powell  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4577
Rainbow trout in nutritional chamber.  Photo by Nicholas Mariana. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center #5297
Sometimes you have to ask what this enterprise is all about.  Photo by Anders Halverson
In the decades that followed World War II, reservoirs were built all over the country. Visiting them to fish for rainbow trout became one of America's favorite pasttimes. This picture was taken in 1972.  National Archives ARC Identifier 542647 / Local Identifier 412-DA-154
Courtesy of Jerry Smith, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
Citizens were invited to collect rotenoned fish and bring them home for dinner. Courtesy of Jerry Smith, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
The rotenone in the Green River turned the water white. Courtesy of Jerry Smith, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
Poisoned fish near Big Sandy, Wyoming.  Courtesy of Jerry Smith, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
Green River near Big Piney.  Courtesy of Jerry Smith, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
Robert R. Miller, Jerry Smith, Jane Davis, and Jack Davis hold up Colorado Pikeminnow killed during the Green River rotenone project in 1962 near Little Hole, Utah.  Courtesy of Jerry Smith, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
The Bridge in Browns Park where the detoxification took place.  W.H. Kittams, National Park Service
A drip station on the Green River.  W.H. Kittams (National Park Service)
Setting up a rotenone drip station in the mouth of flaming gorge in 1962.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center, FWS 4490
The Flaming Gorge Dam as it appeared in August, 1962.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4440
A biologist examines a sentinel cage in the Green River. Carp were placed in cages like these. They were one of the best means available to determine the toxicity of the water from rotenone during the Green River Rehabilitation.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4438
Rotenone drip lines like this were set up every ten miles along the Green River.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4437
Agency personnel set up the detoxification station on the bridge in Browns Park, Colorado. Spreaders like the one in the middle of the picture were used to put potassium permanganate into the Green River.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4434
Citizens like those pictured here were invited to gather the fish that had been killed by the rotenone in the Green River. Agency officials assured them the fish were safe to eat.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4488
Flaming Gorge before the gates on the dam were closed.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4485
Agency personnel set up a rotenone drip station on the Green River 25 miles north of the Utah State Line  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4435
Putting an airboat into the Green River to inspect the ongoing rotenone operation.  Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4436
Photo by Rex Gary Schmidt. Courtesy of National Conservation Training Center. #4489

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