Turning Back: A photographic journal of Re-exploration is published to coincide with the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The narrative begins at the Pacific Ocean and moves eastward through what was formerly one of the world’s great rain forests. Photographs at the center of the book report on the forest’s destruction. Elsewhere they trace a search for hope. Two hundred years ago, Lewis and Clark reported finding in the American Northwest a vast forest of ancient evergreens. In Turning Back Robert Adams looks again at the region’s trees, discovering evidence both of America’s failure and of a continuing promise. President Jefferson’s primary charge to Lewis and Clark was to prepare the way for American commerce. Today, historians still speculate about why, upon his return, Lewis lapsed into depression and apparently committed suicide. Going east. Adams suggests, was more difficult than going west. So then, what is the future? Turning Back documents two kinds of predictive evidence. On the one hand we observe the results of greed so unrestrained that they are indistinguishable from those of nihilism. On the other we see what still lives, whether by our design or neglect, or Providence; in these 164 pictures the tone is celebratory, as in a prayer book. From coastal landscapes populated with tourists to timber clear-cutting and small family farms in eastern Oregon, here we reflect on what was lost, what is retained, and what we value both regionally and as a people with a common history.
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