“Thompson, a southwestern Colorado native, knowledgeably and sensitively addresses ethical questions at the heart of his inquiry, including what it would mean to restore the water system to its precolonial state. He effortlessly explains the technical elements of this story, such as the complex chemistry of the environmental effects of mining. This is a vivid historical account of the Animas region, and Thompson shines in giving a sense of what it means to love a place that’s been designated a ‘sacrifice zone.'” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“An elegy of sorts for a beloved natural area with a long history of human exploitation.” —FOREWORD REVIEWS
“The reader will revel in the beauty of the Colorado landscape while recoiling from descriptions of cruelty towards the Native Americans and the horrors of acid mine drainage.” — BOOKLIST
“Thompson’s writing meanders through Western history, family stories, and pollution–causing activities to create a vivid and, at times, horrifying time line that shows the aftereffects of human exploitation of nature… Aficionados of Western history, environmentalists, and even general readers will enjoy this cautionary tale that takes an intimate look at the side effects of human industry.” — LIBRARY JOURNAL
“Thompson’s investigative chops are impressive. But the book is most evocative when the author negotiates the strange eddies of his personal connections to this landscape.” —SIERRA MAGAZINE
“Thompson’s debut work tells the tale of the Four Corners, its history, its people and their interaction with the land—all from the perspective of a fourth–generation Durango resident.” —THE DURANGO HERALD
“Thompson weaves his skills of investigative journalism and factual verification with the empowering tools and devices of a novelist to bring the reader directly into his new book.” —THE UTAH REVIEW
“An important book of investigative journalism, especially relevant for those living in the Mountain West.” —ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
“By turns mournful, optimistic, angry and hilarious, Thompson offers fresh takes on everything from a mountain town’s bare knuckle politics to a young man’s loss of innocence to what it truly means to be a Westerner. Deeply researched, thoroughly unsentimental, this is a moving and rip–roaringly told tale.” —STEVE FRIEDMAN, author of Lost on Treasure Island and Driving Lessons
“A rich historical and personal account of the San Juan Basin, a region blessed and cursed by its geology. From the hard rock mining era of the late 1800s to the recent natural gas drilling boom, some things never change: the extractive industries fight common sense rules to their own—and the public’s—detriment. This book is a must read for every person who loves the West and needs to understand how we got to where we are today.” —GWEN LACHELT, La Plata County Commissioner and founder of the Western Leaders Network
“Equal parts The Quiet Crisis and Silent Spring, and 100% scary, timely, and so very important. Every citizen in every western mining community MUST read this book, as should every politician at every level of government.” —ANDY NETTELL, Back of Beyond Books
” Thompson, a fifth generation Animas Valley local, and a master craftsman of the written word, makes this book a privilege to read.” —PETER SCHERTZ, Maria’s Bookshop
Award–winning investigative environmental journalist Jonathan P. Thompson digs into the science, politics, and greed behind the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster, and unearths a litany of impacts wrought by a century and a half of mining, energy development, and fracking in southwestern Colorado. Amid these harsh realities, Thompson explores how a new generation is setting out to make amends.
As shocking and heartbreaking as the Gold King spill and its aftermath may be, it’s merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The disaster itself was the climax of the long and troubled story of the Gold King mine, staked by a Swedish immigrant back in 1887. And it was only the most visible manifestation of a slow–moving, multi–faceted environmental catastrophe that had been unfolding here long before the events of August 5, 2015.
Jonathan Thompson is a native Westerner with deep roots in southwestern Colorado. He has been an environmental journalist focusing on the American West since he signed on as reporter and photographer at the Silverton Standard & the Miner newspaper in 1996. He has worked and written for High Country News for over a decade, serving as editor-in-chief from 2007 to 2010. He was a Ted Scripps fellow in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and in 2016 he was awarded the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Market. He currently lives in Bulgaria with his wife Wendy and daughters Lydia and Elena.