Artifacts & Evidence —An Edwin Dobb Reader

On July 26th, 2019, Edwin Dobb passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.

Over the span of his career, Ed’s work was published in Harper’s magazine, National Geographic, High County News, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. For 18 years, he was a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. In 2009, he wrote and produced, the documentary “Butte, America” about his hometown in Montana. Most recently, he was the co-founder of Extraction: Art on the Edge of the Abyss, an international and multidisciplinary project focused on the extraction industry.

I could go on as Ed’s achievements and accolades were many, but this isn’t intended to be an obituary (you can read those below). Instead, this is an incomplete and ongoing compilation of Ed’s work, teaching materials, and other miscellanea meant to serve as a small testament to a great writer, teacher, friend, and human being.

I only knew Ed for a short amount of time. First, as the person congratulating me on my acceptance into UC Berkeley, second as a writing teacher and thesis advisor, and last, as a mentor and friend. Despite our brief overlap, he was a significant figure in my life at a time that was colored by both great uncertainty and great possibility. Over the past year, I have revisited much of our correspondence and in doing so, have found comfort in his pragmatic idealism and the way in which he would impart lessons on reporting, writing, and living, with humility and humor. Ed never claimed to know more than those just starting out — even though he very much did — but simply put forth his ideas like an offering that we could take, or leave.

Of course, I took them all.

In late 2017, as I was cycling through thesis ideas — each one failed to come to fruition for one reason or another— I emailed Ed with an embarrassing note of self-pity. “I feel like a terrible journalist,” I wrote. Ed, of course, responded in his eloquent, no-bullshit way.

“Utter horse shit,” he wrote. “Christ, I’ve had dozens of stories go south on me. That’s why we try to keep several ideas going at once; why we look for opportunities to revive precious ideas; why we tell ourselves, there are always more stories…”

For Ed, too, there were more stories. These are the ones we have.

Courtesy of Extraction: Art on the Edge of the Abyss


Note: some stories are available as PDF’s, many of which Ed diligently uploaded to his own website, from where this compilation derives its name.

Viewpoint: Location, Occupation, Juxtaposition, Interpenetration: Notes on
an Erotics of the Mining City
, Buildings & Landscapes 17, 2010.

There Will Be Oil, Camas: The Nature of the West, 2013.

New Life in a Deathtrap, Discover, 2000.

Dirty Old Town: Addiction and Betrayal in the Mining City, Drumlummon Views, 2009.

Nothing But Gifts, Harper’s, 2018.

Should John Walker Lindh Go Free?, Harper’s, 2002.

A Kiss is Still a Kiss, Harper’s, 1996.

Pennies From Hell, Harper’s, 1996.

Where the Good Begins, Harper’s, 1998.

Without Earth, There is No Heaven, Harper’s, 1995.

Immersed in the Wild, High Country News, 2010.

The Lessons of Butte, Montana, High Country News, 2010.

Mining the Past, High Country News, 1999.

Still Here, High Country News, 2000.

Crafting the Everyday, High Country News, 2006.

Us and them vs. all the rest, High Country News, 2010.

Not in our America, Donald Trump, Montana Standard, 2016.

The New Oil Landscape, National Geographic, 2013.

Canadian First Nations Seek to Protect Forest Homeland, National Geographic, 2015.

Why Poison Is a Growing Threat to Africa’s Wildlife, National Geographic, 2018.

The New Oil Landscape, National Geographic, 2013.

Alaska’s Choice: Salmon or Gold, National Graphic, 2010.

When Anti-Semitism Showed Up, This Whole Town Responded, Reader’s Digest, 1994.

Cultivating Nature, The Sciences, 1992.

A Backyard Disaster in Montana — And Next Door to Everyone, Trust Magazine, 2008.


CLASH: CONTESTED TERRAIN, CONFLICTING INTERESTS: Telling Environmental Stories that Matter, Fall 2019 Syllabus.


Montana Standard

Point Reyes Light

University of California, Berkeley

Harper’s Magazine

If you have any memories you’d like to share or clips of Ed’s work, please email me:

Rage On.

Freelance journalist and photographer. Subscribe to Defender, a newsletter about the global environmental justice movement:

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