Niagara: A History of the Falls

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9780771012174: Niagara: A History of the Falls

Full of heroes and villains, eccentrics and daredevils, scientists, and power brokers, Niagara has a contemporary resonance: how a great natural wonder created both the industrial heartland of southern Ontario and the worst pollution on the continent.
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Review:

Sometimes a place can be as good a subject for a "biography" as a person--and Niagara Falls turns out to be such a place. Fortunately, it found its ideal biographer in Canadian historian Pierre Berton, who chronicles its colorful history with a storyteller's verve. Niagara Falls was a sort of laboratory and breeding ground for a wide variety of American phenomena: carnivals and theme parks, destination tourism, industrialization based on cheap hydroelectric power, and the conservation movement, among others. Berton weaves all this together in a readable, well-paced book rich with anecdotes, memorable characters, and nicely crafted language.

From the Back Cover:

"The noble cataract reflects the concerns, the fancies, and the failings of the times. If we gaze deeply enough into its shimmering image, we can perhaps discern our own." -- Pierre Berton

"[Pierre Berton] makes a serious and convincing case for Niagara's pivotal role in North American history ... His Niagara is a lodestar for North American culture and invention: site of the first railway suspension bridge, inspiration for Nikola Tesla's discovery of the principle of alternating current, and the subject of Frederic Church's most celebrated landscape; a natural wonder that has bewitched generations of scientists, authors and utopians, and stimulated innovations and social movements still casting long shadows ... surprising, rich and engrossing." -- New York Times Book Review

"Canadian historian Berton tells dozens of absorbing tales about the region and those who passed through it ... He tells them all superbly, aided by essential maps and a few reproductions of posters advertising some of the more bizarre stunts." -- Publishers Weekly

"Entertaining ... Berton brings to life the adventurers and dreamers, visionaries and industrialists, who over centuries have been drawn to the Falls." -- Maclean's

"Berton at his storytelling best; there is something for everyone ... a vintage, full-bodied read." -- The London Free Press

"A book worth diving into." -- Calgary Herald

"By turns ironic, amused, shocked, horrified and awestruck, Berton traces Niagara's history through the deeds of those who came in contact with it ... all the while walking the fine line between detachment and emotion with agility and grace." -- The Whig-Standard (Kingston)

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Berton, Pierre
Published by McClelland & Stewart (1994)
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