Ever since French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s first taste of what he called la mer douce” the freshwater sea the Great Lakes have been admired, exploited, and renewed. This vast region is a study in contrasts: a hub of industry that’s the resting spot for billions of migrating birds. 40 million residents, immense untamed forests. 95 percent of North America’s fresh water and a dumping ground for poisonous wastes. The Great Lakes is an authoritative, accessible look at an ecosystem in eternal flux. Written by one of North America’s most acclaimed science and nature writers, the book explores the area’s geological formation and its role in human history; its diverse plant, bird, and animal species; and its significant physical, climatic, and environmental features. This captivating tribute to the Great Lakes region is also an essential guide to the challenge of preserving the natural world.