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Curt Stager author, educator, scientist

In Still Waters, Curt Stager introduces us to the secret worlds hidden within lakes as he travels from the Adirondacks to the wilds of Siberia, from Massachusetts to the Middle East. For him, lakes are both mirrors and windows into history, culture, and ecology. Stager fills his narrative with strange and enchanting details about these submerged worlds-diving insects chirping underwater like crickets, African crater lakes that explode, the growing threats to Thoreau's cherished pond- while emphasizing how beautiful and precious our lakes are, and how, more than ever, it is essential to protect them.


"Stager... has a jeweler's eye for the fine print of existence. This contrast between the poetical and the professorial runs throughout 'Still Waters.' ... Stager's curiosity and erudition, along with his self-effacement, work in his favor. As does his lyrical imagination, which informs his view of lakes as places of illusion, a crossroads of myth and reason." The Wall Street Journal

"Stager has previously written on climate change -work that easily joins the ranks of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction. He takes a similarly long view of lake ecology here, yet this book has more in common with Henry David Thoreau's Walden. An outstanding work of nature and science writing that lingers long after the book is closed." - Meredith Powers, Library Journal (starred review)

"An important contribution to understanding how lakes, beyond their singular beauty, are windows to our primal connections to all life." - Kirkus Reviews

"Core samples of sediment can be wormholes through time, reaching back thousands - even millions - of years, depending on the age of the lake. The continuous soft slow sift of particles drifting down forms a record Stager describes as written in 'leaves, twigs and puffs of pollen from the forest. Mushroom spores, insect wings, and translucent grains of beach sand from the shore.  Genes and bones from fish and turtles, and the gleaming glassy shells of microscopic diatom algae.'  The depth of perspective can be profound, as this superbly informed book demonstrates." - The Times Literary Supplement.

“Curt Stager takes his readers into the depths of ponds, lakes, and seas around the globe -- both polluted and pristine, ancient and nearly new -- and brings alive the universe of life contained within each. Picking up the torch lit by Thoreau more than 150 years ago, Still Waters plumbs a question that vexes ecologists and philosophers alike -- Can waters so shaped by human hands ever again be considered 'natural?' His conclusions will surprise as much as they entertain." Dan Egan, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

Curt Stager is as fine a teacher as I have ever encountered, both in the classroom and on the page. You will learn something new in every paragraph of this book, and the vivid writing will make it stick in your brain. For those of us who love the planet's lakes, this is like a long, cool drink of the freshest water.” - Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont

“Curt Stager is an eloquent story-teller. He guides us not only into the fascinating ecological worlds that dwell within lakes, but also demonstrates that our own nature, both biological and cultural, cannot be understood apart from our many interconnections with these living waters.” - David George Haskell, author of The Songs of Trees and The Forest Unseen

“Lakes reflect us both literally and metaphorically, in ways shallow and deep. We can see our faces as we peer into their surface. But more deeply, lakes also reflect how the world is changing. Curt Stager has written a deep book about lakes. He peers into deep time, letting lakes tell us what has been, as well as foretelling a bit about who we are becoming.”
- Carl Safina, author of A Sea In Flames and Beyond Worlds: What Animals Think and Feel

"Throughout Still Waters the reader has the pleasure of the author as a teacher, guide, and raconteur. Stager immerses us in the seductive and ever-changing currents of lives in general and lives of lakes in particular."
-Ed Kanze, Adirondack Explorer

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For more information about Curt's other books, see the "Writings" page.

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