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210 × 148 × 17 mm
248 pages
117 illustrations, 93 in colour
01 May 2012

Waterfall Nature and Culture Brian Hudson

From Niagara Falls in North America to Angel Falls in Venezuela, Victoria Falls in Africa to Hannoki Falls in Japan, waterfalls provide some of the world’s most spectacular scenes. Whether thundering cataracts or exquisite cascades, these astonishing natural wonders attract hordes of visitors each year.

While waterfalls have often been considered in terms of their picturesque or sublime qualities, their rich cultural background has been neglected. In Waterfall, Brian Hudson portrays these marvels in a new light. He explores the many myths and legends that tumbling rivers and streams have inspired in cultures ranging from Native American to Celtic and Indian, and how they have been described by the poets and depicted in film and music. His examples of paintings by Chinese and Dutch Masters, the Hudson River School in America and in Britain by J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin and others present a fascinating variety of approach and technique in artistic attempts to capture the wonders painters encountered. Waterfalls also influenced landscape architects, for artificial effects featuring cascading water have long been a staple of park, garden and even backyard design. Hudson also discusses the ecology of waterfalls and the conflict that arises from their importance as both a source of hydroelectric power and tourist income in many countries. Countless waterfalls have been sacrificed to ‘development’, and many more are currently under threat, as the demand for energy and water grows.

A superb addition to the library of any nature lover, this beautifully illustrated book is a fascinating look at the history and value of waterfalls.

‘Looking at the natural wonders in a new light, the author explores the many myths and legends that tumbling rivers and streams have inspired in cultures . . . A unique addition to any nature-lovers bookshelves, this beautifully illustrated book is a fascinating look at the history and value of waterfalls.’ — Yorkshire Ridings magazine

Waterfall includes wide-ranging chapters on how waterfalls are formed, their ecological importance, their use in landscape and urban design, and their role in water power and as tourist destinations, along with their beauty, allure, and current threats. The humanities perspective provides a fresh look at a remarkable natural phenomenon. Recommended.’ — Choice

‘An evocative, well-researched, beautifully illustrated and many-layered exploration of one of our planet's most compelling natural wonders.’ — Margaret Drabble

Waterfall is that rare book on nature, learned and beautifully illustrated, encyclopedic in detail and sweeping in historical, aesthetic, and applied coverage, a must not only on the shelf of every nature lover's library, but also - I might add - on his or her coffee table.’ — Yi-Fu Tuan, author of Space and Place

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Brian J. Hudson is Adjunct Professor in the School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. His other books include Waterfalls of Jamaica (2001).


1. Waterfall Lovers and Waterfalling
2. Waterfalls: Birth, Life and Death
3. The Allure of Waterfalls
4. The Beautiful, the Sublime and the Picturesque
5. Waterfalls of Passion, Fountains of Love
6. Paradise and the Hereafter
7. Waterfalls and the Creative Mind: Literature and Art
8. Waterfalls and the Creative Mind: New Directions
9. The Designed Landscape
10. Power and Human Settlements
11. Waterfalls and Tourism
12. Waterfalls Lost, Despoiled and Threatened

Notable Waterfalls
Select Bibliography
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements