An important primer on the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

Title: The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

A review and recommendation by Helen Bryce

Published by: W.W. Norton & Company, March 2017

If you are passionate about maintaining the health, beauty and longevity of Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes for generations to come, this piece of scientific journalism is an essential read.

Egan begins by tracing the catastrophic effects that the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway has had on the health of this huge fresh water system, detailing the damage that invasive species such as sea lampreys and alewives to Zebra and Quagga mussels have inflicted. And, the desperate introduction of Coho and Chinook Salmon to bring tourism and fishermen to its shores and the impending threat of the Asian carp continue this engaging narrative.

Picture of book The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

Egan, a newspaper reporter (and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist), raises the specter of toxic algae blooms poisoning water supplies - increasingly likely with the impact of climate change on rising water temperatures - as well as the on-going debate about diverting water from the Great Lakes to areas of the south western United States!

Egan’s accessible writing makes abundantly clear how vulnerable these enormous bodies of water are and how essential it is that we safeguard them and advocate for them politically.

To quote Eva Holland who reviewed Egan’s book for the Globe and Mail, “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is an engaging, vitally important work of science journalism … Here's hoping, for the sake of the Great Lakes and everyone who depends on them, that Egan's new book inspires … tangible results.”

How do we turn the tables on this ecological disaster? Egan offers some optimism to us, but take heed, Governments and Politicians. The heft of his hope depends on your integrity as responsible stewards of the Great Lakes.

Helen Bryce's favourite reading spot in Pointe au Baril, Georgian Bay

Highly recommended by Helen Bryce, GBF Board of Directors

Helen Bryce is the chair of the GBF education committee. We are looking for book and author recommendations and reviews. We can't promise that we will publish them all, but they will be submitted to the education committee for consideration. GBF is looking for books that tell stories and or provide information that will help to illuminate and engage our fellow Georgian Bayers on on protecting the water. Please contact us with the subject line Book Club Reco at