Visible Bones: Journeys through Time in the Columbia River Country

Sasquatch Books, Seattle, 2003

Visible Bones


  • One of The Seattle Time’s Best Nonfiction books of 2003
  • Washington State Library Book of the Year award, 2004

“Nisbet’s “Visible Bones” fits perfectly into the category of place-based writing. In 12 exquisite chapters, he ranges across time and territory to introduce us to the Columbia River country, the more than 210,000 square miles of sagebrush, basalt, and high mountains that drain into the West’s grandest river. It is clear that Nisbet not only knows this place but is passionate about its stories.
What makes Nisbet’s story most appealing is how he weaves journal entries, century-old newspaper articles, personal reminiscences and biology, both modern and historical, to tease out the underlying tales of the land. By doing so he makes the modern terrain richer and more intriguing. His stories also make us realize what recent inhabitants have missed.”


– David Williams, Seattle Times

“The book resonates with history and place, and also with Nisbet’s crisp voice…lavish in detail but pleasantly clear in the telling.”


– Portland Oregonian

“[Nisbet’s] writing will pull you out of your chair and make you eager for a walk in the wild. Anyone who wants a true sense of place in the Inland Northwest needs to read this book.”


– Spokesman-Review

“Together, the stories these bones tell lay out a wholly original, hybrid history that connects nature with human endeavor, and geography with the passage of time.”


– Washington Wildlands magazine

“Jack Nisbet’s Visible Bones accomplishes the rare combination of delighting while it instructs. Combining a scientific eye for the world with a storyteller’s sensibility, Nisbet walks us (literally) through a landscape that he knows and loves. Further, the stories that he tells also immerse us in the history of the Columbia River and its surroundings. Perhaps there is no better way to praise this book than to say that it not only delights and instructs, Visible Bones forces a reader to look at his or her surroundings with a different eye — an eye more educated, curious, and engaged.”


– Todd Marshall, Gonzaga University