Thomas King’s book was eye-opening, but definitely not surprising. If you had asked me about my knowledge and/or opinion of NEPA and NHPA before reading this book, I would have certainly used the word “inadequate” in my answer, but I would not have been able to give an answer that was nearly as well-thought out.
I did respect King’s opinion that NEPA and HPA do not and should not dictate that all heritage be preserved instead of satisfying present-day needs (15). If he had not have laid that down at the beginning of the book I might have pegged him for a hardcore at-all-costs preservationist. Instead he is advocating for EIA and CRM processes to be taken more seriously, given proper thought and consideration, and to become more than just “getting and giving clearance” for projects (141). This doesn’t seem like it should be a huge problem, but the obstacles standing in the way regarding big business, bureaucracy and the nature of the system itself (EIA and CRM specialists often working for the project proponents themselves) are overwhelming. It was not quite the feel-good book of the year for me, but this subject seems absolutely necessary for people in the public history field to understand.