Animal Law Review

First Page



The snail darter has become a symbol of environmental extremism. In reality, however, the farmers, members of the Cherokee Nation, and concerned citizens were simply fighting to keep the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)’s Tellico Dam from destroying the last free-flowing miles of the Little Tennessee River. This Book Review examines the work of Zygmunt J.B. Plater, the law professor who, along with ordinary citizens, fought their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court in defense of their river, the snail darter, and the Endangered Species Act. Plater reveals the truth behind the landmark TVA v. Hill case in The Snail Darter and the Dam: How Pork-Barrel Politics Endangered a Little Fish and Killed a River, by recounting the history of the region and evolution of the case. He also exposes the perverse pork-barrel politics behind the Tellico Dam, and reveals the power of media on the public’s perception of the snail darter case that resonates to this day. This Review highlights the most important aspects of Plater’s story, but it also examines the ways in which Plater and his team could have improved the public perception of the TVA v. Hill controversy. This Review urges everyone who wishes to enter the public sphere to have their voices heard to read The Snail Darter and the Dam for its inspirational and instructive importance.

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