China Lake (Paperback)

A Journey into the Contradicted Heart of a Global Climate Catastrophe (The Iowa Prize in Literary Nonfiction)

By Barret Baumgart

University Of Iowa Press, 9781609384708, 280pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2017

List Price: 19.95*
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Description

Barret Baumgart’s literary debut presents a haunting and deeply personal portrait of civilization poised at the precipice, a picture of humanity caught between its deepest past and darkest future. In the fall of 2013, during the height of California’s historic drought, Baumgart toured the remote military base, NAWS China Lake, near Death Valley, California. His mother, the survivor of a recent stroke, decided to come along for the ride. She hoped the alleged healing power of the base’s ancient Native American hot springs might cure her crippling headaches. Baumgart sought to debunk claims that the military was spraying the atmosphere with toxic chemicals to control the weather. What follows is a discovery that threatens to sever not only the bonds between mother and son but between planet Earth and life itself.

Stalking the fringes of Internet conspiracy, speculative science, and contemporary archaeology, Baumgart weaves memoir, military history, and investigative journalism in a dizzying journey that carries him from the cornfields of Iowa to drought-riddled California, from the Vietnam jungle to the caves of prehistoric Europe and eventually the walls of the US Capitol, the sparkling white hallways of the Pentagon, and straight into the contradicted heart of a worldwide climate emergency. 
 


About the Author

BARRET BAUMGART’s work has appeared in Vice, the Gettysburg Review, the Seneca Review, the Literary Review, and Camera Obscura. He lives in Los Angeles, California.


Praise For China Lake: A Journey into the Contradicted Heart of a Global Climate Catastrophe (The Iowa Prize in Literary Nonfiction)

“A unique, alarming portrayal of the American military-industrial complex, the crisis of climate change, and the nature of truth and despair. Baumgart's dreamlike, nonlinear narrative is composed of dizzying juxtapositions, illuminating the parallels and paradoxes of modernity and antiquity, devastation and healing, science and the supernatural. Resisting simple answers and constantly challenging assumptions, the author explores collective and personal anxieties surrounding human-nature relationships and the planet's current peril, interwoven with childhood nostalgia and reflections on family, loss, and time. Nearly indescribable and utterly engrossing, this book is an urgent and terrifying cultural reflection, a startling look in the mirror.” (starred review)

— Kirkus Review

“A devastating artistic achievement.”

— Foreword Reviews