Book Review: Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast, by Rick Schafer, Essays by Jack & Jan McGowan

When I enjoy books with beautiful pictures of Oregon’s scenery [1], I prefer them to come without a sermon.  Unfortunately, it is all too common for books about nature to want to lecture people as to how that nature needs to be protected through intrusive bureaucracies and government regulations [2].  Let me break it to would be essayists like those of this book:  if someone is reading a book and appreciating photos of wild and uninhabited nature, then that person has an appreciation for creation, and one can spare the lecture.  Considering that this book is basically an updated version of a book from about two or three decades before on the Oregon coast, the lack of originality in the book’s approach is a bit painful.  Thankfully, there are enough photographs to make this a worthwhile endeavor even if it’s not as good a coffee table book as its predecessor.  Still, photos of beautiful Oregon coastal scenery can be appreciated even when they come with unpalatable supporting text, and so even with this book’s failures it is still worth enjoying because at least its photos are good.

In terms of its contents, this volume is a bit under 100 pages and divides its look at the Oregon Coast into three parts from north to south.  The book does a good job at presenting the complexity of the Oregon coast, from its hidden shipwrecks, one of which still sends out beeswax into the water even hundreds of years later, apparently, to its many interesting rivers and headlands and the ports with their tricky sandbars, to the shifting dunes of much of Oregon’s surprisingly sandy beaches.  There are really two reasons why someone would want to read this book, and that are the photos as well as the captions, both of which work at showing the beauty of Oregon’s littoral.  The fact that some of Oregon’s beaches used to be used as roads is quite remarkable, and there are even some useful trivia questions, such as, what is the only Oregon ocean port that is not on a river and has no bar to cross, Port Orford.  I do not know when or if such a trivia question will ever be useful, but it may be so I suppose that is another reason to appreciate this book.

Of the three people involved in the creation of this book with name credit, there are clearly very difficult judgments to make about them.  Rick Schafer’s photographs are amazing, and this book certainly demonstrates that the photographer has an eye for great composition and also good taste in choosing such beautiful areas to photograph.  For that skill alone this book, and any other book he has made, deserves a look.  Even if the idea of making a book out of beautiful Oregon photography is not exactly an original idea, it is still executed well here.  On the other hand, the essays by Jack and Jan McGowan detract from the enjoyment value of the book and add to its length.  This book would have been vastly better without the politically-inclined essays and with more amazing photographs.  Sometimes less is more, and that is especially true when one is dealing with environmentalist propaganda.  One might suspect that there are plenty of people who agree with it, but even they might be honest enough to admit that they would prefer to see more pictures of amazing state parks and dunes to more screeds about saving the environment.  Stop talking about it; show more beautiful photos of God’s creation that show it to be well worth saving without having to say anything about it.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Book Review: Oregon Coast

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Oregon: Portrait Of A State | Edge Induced Cohesion

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  3. Pingback: Book Review: Jacques Henri Lartigue: Photographer | Edge Induced Cohesion

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