Under Western Skies

Under Western Skies : Nature and History in the American West

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Description

The West has long been central to the American identity, and the writing of western history has reflected our changing sense of ourselves. For decades, the story of the West has been told as a glorious tale of conquest and rugged individualism--a triumphant march of progress. But recently a new school of historians has taken a second look at this tradition, creating what is known as "new western history, " an approach that gives a central role to the environment, native peoples, and the concentration of power in the hands of a few elites. And foremost among the new western historians is Donald Worster. In Worster's writings, the western past emerges not as a march of Manifest Destiny, but as an unfolding relationship between man and nature, and the forging of a multicultural society. In Under Western Skies, Worster conveys the power of the new western history with eleven eloquent and graceful essays. He provides an introduction to the changing traditions of western historical writing, and then demonstrates his own approach through fascinating case studies. Identifying himself as an environmental historian, he writes compellingly of the changing relationship between the land, native Americans, and the descendants of Europe. For example, he takes a hard look at the struggle by the Lakota to regain ownership of the Black Hills, examining not only the legal history of treaties and court cases but also the place of the Black Hills in Indian religion and the way they have been exploited under U.S. management. He discusses the cowboy (a romantic figure almost ignored by historians) in terms of the new ecology that arose from livestock ranching--the endless miles of fencing, the changes in theenvironment wrought by extensive grazing, wild life of the range almost wiped out because they were considered a threat to sheep and cattle. But Worster's view of nature isn't as simple or as linear as for instance Bill McKibben's stark picture in The End of Nature, a picture Worsshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 134.62 x 215.9 x 22.86mm | 204.12g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0195086716
  • 9780195086713

Review quote

"A thoughtful, sensible collection...Worster reminds us that unlimited freedom and power are dangerous goals; both must be limited if the West's delicately balanced ecology is to endure."--Publishers Weekly"Donald Worster is the dean of American environmental historians and one of our leading interpreters of the American West. He writes with the passion of a native son and offers perspectives that are as profound as they are provocative on the major environmental questions that have shaped the region's past and will define its future. Under Western Skies is a major contribution by a major scholar."--William Cronon, Yale University"Donald Worster's honesty, critical intelligence, and talent for writing will prove to be three of the American West's most valuable resources in the late twentieth century. If Americans read this book and take it seriously, our prospects for living wisely and responsibly in this region will instantly brighten."--Patricia Nelson Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest"Donald Worster is a brilliant social historian. Under Western Skies is insightful, incisive, useful, and necessary. And a terrific read--vivid and compelling."--William Kittredge"Worster writes clearly and with passion...He provides food for thought about the West's past and future."--Gateway Heritage"No one is a more powerful spokesman for the New Western History than Donald Worster, and no western historian is a better storyteller. He writes with passion and eloquence, with deep concern for the future of the region as well as its past. Readers will find these essays thoughtful, stimulating, and contentious."--Great Plains Quarterly"A probing set of essays of particular interest to graduate students because Worster poses research questions and describes patterns of previously published research. These essays never fail to meet Worster's previously established high standards for research and writing."--Barbara Handy-Marchello, University of North Dakota"It's a case of man and mountain matching one another: Donald Worster is one of the finest American historians of his generation, and John Wesley Powell one of the most impressive Americans of his time. This book is very readable, very thorough, and very welcome."--Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove, Crazy Horse and Roadsshow more

About Donald Worster

Donald Worster is Hall Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Dust Bowl, Rivers of Empire, and other works of history.show more

Rating details

45 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 11% (5)
4 73% (33)
3 11% (5)
2 4% (2)
1 0% (0)
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