This Delta, This Land
An Environmental History of the Yazoo-Mississippi Floodplain

Mikko Saikku

A groundbreaking interdisciplinary bioregional study of "the most southern place on earth"


"Saikku's is a refreshingly northern European take on an interesting and important aspect of North American environmental history. He is comfortable with geology, paleontology, botany, and zoology, and he has mastered not only historians' methodologies and 'theories' but those of scientists as well. He is deserving of respect."
—Jack Temple Kirby, author of Poquosin: A Study of Rural Landscape and Society

"This Delta, This Land is Faulknerian in scale—rich in sense of place, broad in implications. This is what environmental history needs right now—a work that puts ecology and economy back into the center of the picture, without neglecting the cultural meanings of nature. It is redolent of a place that looms large in American history, literature, and folklore. An outstanding contribution."
—Donald Worster, Hall Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas

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This Delta, This Land is a comprehensive environmental history of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta—the first one to place the Delta's economic and cultural history in an environmental context. The Delta, the floodplain between two great rivers in the northwestern corner of Mississippi, has changed enormously since the Civil War. Agriculture, lumbering, and flood-management schemes have transformed it beyond recognition—and beyond any prospects for a full recovery.

However, says Mikko Saikku, the 150 years following the Civil War brought greater environmental change than we generally realize. Indeed, the long-term environmental history of the Delta is much more complex than our current view of it, which privileges recent periods rather than presenting the entire continuum. Looking across thousands of years, Saikku examines successive human societies in the Delta, drawing connections between environmental and social problems and noting differences between Native Americans and Euro-Americans in their economies, modes of production, and land-use patterns.

Saikku's range of sources is astonishing: travel literature, naturalists' writings, government records, company archives, archaeological data, private correspondence, and more. As he documents how such factors as climate and water levels shaped the Delta, he also reveals the human aspects of the region's natural history, including land reclamation, slave and sharecropper economies, ethnic and racial perceptions of land ownership and stewardship, and even blues music.

Page count: 400 pp.
6 b&w photos, 5 tables, 3 maps, 1 figure
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $30.95

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Mikko Saikku is a lecturer in North American Studies at the University of Helsinki.