Fen, Bog and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis (Paperback)
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*Named a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker and Literary Hub!*
*A 2022 NBCC Awards Nonfiction Finalist and a 2023 Phillip D. Reed Environmental Writing Award Finalist*
From Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx, this riveting deep dive into the history of our wetlands and what their systematic destruction means for the planet “is both an enchanting work of nature writing and a rousing call to action” (Esquire).
“I learned something new—and found something amazing—on every page.” —Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land
A lifelong acolyte of the natural world, Annie Proulx brings her witness and research to the subject of wetlands and the vitally important role they play in preserving the environment—by storing the carbon emissions that accelerate climate change. Fens, bogs, swamps, and marine estuaries are crucial to the earth’s survival, and in four illuminating parts, Proulx documents their systemic destruction in pursuit of profit.
In a vivid and revelatory journey through history, Proulx describes the fens of 16th-century England, Canada’s Hudson Bay lowlands, Russia’s Great Vasyugan Mire, and America’s Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. She introduces the early explorers who launched the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and writes of the diseases spawned in the wetlands—the Ague, malaria, Marsh Fever.
A sobering look at the degradation of wetlands over centuries and the serious ecological consequences, this is “an unforgettable and unflinching tour of past and present, fixed on a subject that could not be more important” (Bill McKibben).
“A stark but beautifully written Silent Spring–style warning from one of our greatest novelists.” —The Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
Annie Proulx is the author of eleven books, including the novels The Shipping News and Barkskins, and the story collection Close Range. Her many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner award. Her story “Brokeback Mountain,” which originally appeared in The New Yorker, was made into an Academy Award–winning film. Fen, Bog, and Swamp is her second work of nonfiction. She lives in New Hampshire.
Praise for Fen, Bog & Swamp
“This sobering history of our world’s rich wetlands explains the chilling ecological consequences of their destruction.” —New York Times Book Review
“A fierce declaration of peat’s importance to climate stability and human survival. Proulx does not imagine she can plug the holes in the peatlands, but she is determined to plug the peatland-size hole in our histories.” —The New York Review of Books
“Proulx’s astute and impassioned examinations of all kinds of wetlands, including estuaries, show a new side of the novelist we thought we knew.” —Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times
"An enchanting history of our wetlands... Imbued with the same reverence for nature as Proulx’s fiction, Fen, Bog, and Swamp is both an enchanting work of nature writing and a rousing call to action." —Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
“Poetic, wide-ranging, and a display of erudition seldom offered. Whatever opinion or attitude the reader brings to this presentation, it is worth reading for its word art alone!” —David Sutton, San Francisco Book Review
“The Pulitzer Prize-winning Proulx ("The Shipping News," "Barkskins") turns to nonfiction, writing about climate change, the history of wetlands, and what their destruction means for the planet.” —Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“This recent nonfiction book on a small portion of nature packs a punch.” —Cassie Gutman, Book Riot
“A fascinating, captivating new book by Annie Proulx that reveals the mystery and majesty of fens, bogs, and swamps.” —CJ Lotz, Garden & Gun Magazine
"In Fen, Bog & Swamp, Annie Proulx shows us how to fall in love with wetlands . . . [The book] pays the kind of artistic and emotional attention to swamps that is usually reserved for sunsets and canyons.” —Kiley Bense, Inside Climate News