Read e-book online An unsettled country: changing landscapes of the American PDF

By Donald Worster

ISBN-10: 0826314821

ISBN-13: 9780826314826

The West continues to be unsettled--by cultural behavior, highbrow debate, and ecological stipulations. In those 4 essays, that have been offered because the 1992 Calvin P. Horn Lectures in Western background and tradition, Donald Worster incisively discusses the function of the average setting within the making of the West--and usually in its unmaking and remaking. His matters are 4 associated issues: the legacy of John Wesley Powell to western source administration; the domination of water coverage via nation, technological know-how, and capital because the mid-nineteenth century; the destiny of natural world within the push to settle the West; and the specter of international warming to the good Plains.

The panorama of the West has for too lengthy been a drawback to be conquer. yet in Worster's view it's in seeing how humans have handled and, all too frequently, mishandled nature that provides urgency to raised knowing the region's ecological background. Worster argues for a brand new courting of western humans to their atmosphere according to merits to a neighborhood instead of on profits to individuals.

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Powell, however, was aiming in a different direction-for the Badlands of Dakota, where the White River had cut deeply into fine, white, clay sediments intermixed with thin sandstone layers, a place no farmer could love. Powell must have seen in such a sterile but strangely beautiful place the possibilities of a good crop of scientific discovery. But at Fort Laramie, discouraged by reports of growing Indian resistance to white travelers, the party changed their minds and turned south into Colorado, looking for Pike's Peak.

The powerful lobbies for western development, on the other hand, led by railroad corporations, mining companies, cattle outfits invading the public domain, and the like, could not have seen much merit in so many commonwealths getting in their way. Four years after offering his reforms, Powell resigned from the directorship of the Geological Survey, ostensibly because of the continuing pain from his wound, but in truth he was driven out of office by budget cuts and general indifference as much as by opposition to his ideas.

The first chapter pursues that argument through an analysis of the ideas of John Wesley Powell, whose chief contribution was to discover the powerful fact of aridity in the region and to reflect on its implications for the region's future. Powell's opponents were radical "constructionists"; that is, they were politicians, businessmen, miners, and farmers intent on constructing a region to fit their dreams, a construction that would be limited only by the availability of capital and technology. Powell came to a different conclusion, one emphasizing the need for adaptation to the land similar to what bioregionalists call for today, where region is the outcome of a dialogue between culture and nature.

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An unsettled country: changing landscapes of the American West by Donald Worster

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