Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon

By Tucker Malarkey

Salmon teach us the lessons about conservation and the circle of life.

Book Review By Don McDougall

“Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon,” By Tucker Malarkey, is meant to be a biography of one person, but to me it’s a book of wonderful lessons in salmon, conservation, geography and connectiveness.

Malarkey tells the story of Guido Rahr, an Oregon fly-fisher obsessed with saving the salmon, specifically in the Pacific Rim, which of course includes California and San Mateo County. Relevantly, salmon were important to Monterey fisheries before sardines. Although not in scientific detail, the six types of salmon (and some relatives like taimen), as well as their ecosystem of the oceans and rivers of the Pacific Rim, are enticingly described.

As the keystone within this ecosystem, salmon benefit from, and contribute to, a healthy environment migrating from the ocean to their spawning grounds, carrying protein and nutrients from the sea up the rivers where they breed, and then they immediately die, their remains feeding flora and fauna up and down the food chain. The lessons of the conservation fight, although titled “one man’s quest,” embrace Russian oligarchs, Silicon Valley billionaires, entertainment celebrities and, importantly, local natives, fishing guides and fishermen.

Education about the environment and ecosystems, the connectiveness of things and collaborative action are the important messages emanating from this book about one obsessive and inspirational man. This is a thought-provoking read for those wanting a greater understanding of nature and the nature of man.