RIVER OF LOST SOULS is an in-depth and gripping chronicle of human history in the Four Corners Country of the American West as told through the extractive industries that have exploited the area and the pollution they left behind. Long-time environmental journalist Jonathan Thompson starts with the Gold King Mine disaster of 2015, which turned the Animas River orange with mining-related sludge and toxic metals for over 100 miles downstream, wreaking havoc on cities, farms, and the Navajo Nation along the way. He walks readers through the history behind the disaster, and explains the geologic, chemical, and hydrologic forces that created the acid mine drainage that burst from the mine that day. Most alarmingly, Thompson reveals that the Gold King was just the tip of the pollution iceberg, and that the Animas River watershed — holy land to several southwestern tribes — has been a sacrifice zone for mining, uranium production, fracking, drilling, and coal burning for nearly 150 years.
It will be available in your favorite independent bookstore in March 2018 (ask them now to stock it!). Or, if you just can’t wait, pre-order here.
“Sixth generation San Juan mountain man Jonathan Thompson has invented a new literary genre—the personal memoir/regional history/geolologic analysis/meditation on a mining disaster. 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. Along the way he upends conventional wisdom and offers fresh insight into everything from Manifest Destiny to the salve of community. Deeply researched, thoroughly unsentimental, this is a moving and rip-roaringly told tale.”
— Steve Friedman, author of Lost on Treasure Island and Driving Lessons
“River of Lost Souls” by Jonathan Thompson is equal parts “Quiet Crisis,” and “Silent Spring,” and 100 percent scary, timely, and so very important. This well-researched book of investigative journalism sets the scene for the 2016 Gold King Mine Disaster which highlights the risk of the ticking time bombs throughout the inter-mountain west; bombs which politicians and corporate mining companies would prefer to have just disappear. Every citizen in every western mining community MUST read this book, as should every politician at every level of government. Mine tailings and toxic waste are realities which must be dealt with quickly before more ecological disasters occur.
— Andy Nettell, proprietor Back of Beyond Books, Moab, Utah
To know the West, Jonathan Thompson’s, River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster is a must read. On par with Lavender’s “One Man’s West,” Thompson describes the history of settlement in the beautiful Animas River valley nestled in the rugged San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. The mountain town of Silverton lies near the headwaters of the Animas and is surrounded by ore-filled mountains that triggered man’s unending desire to strike it rich and prosper from the land. As in most early and unregulated western mining districts, environmental pollution and cultural issues came to be a part of these areas. At the Gold King Mine outside Silverton, these ongoing issues finally culminate in 2015 with the massive spill of toxic mine wastewater, which became a news event reported worldwide. The spill, chronicled in Thompson’s fine book had repercussions through New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and the entire Colorado River drainage. Thompson, a 6th generation Animas Valley local, and a master craftsman of the written word, makes this book a privilege to read by anyone interested in the West.
— Peter Schertz, co-owner Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, Colorado
“Jonathan Thompson’s River of Lost Souls is 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