Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics and Promise of the American Prairie

Overview

More than forty percent of our country was once open prairie, grassland that extended from Missouri to Montana. Taking a critical look at this little-understood biome, award-winning journalist Richard Manning urges the reclamation of this land, showing how the grass is not only our last connection to the natural world, but also a vital link to our own prehistoric roots, our history, and our culture.

Framing his book with the story of the remarkable elk, whose mysterious ...

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Overview

More than forty percent of our country was once open prairie, grassland that extended from Missouri to Montana. Taking a critical look at this little-understood biome, award-winning journalist Richard Manning urges the reclamation of this land, showing how the grass is not only our last connection to the natural world, but also a vital link to our own prehistoric roots, our history, and our culture.

Framing his book with the story of the remarkable elk, whose mysterious wanderings seem to reclaim his ancestral plains, Manning traces the expansion of America into what was then viewed as the American desert and considers our attempts over the last two hundred years to control unpredictable land through plowing, grazing, and landscaping. He introduces botanists and biologists who are restoring native grasses, literally follows the first herd of buffalo restored to the wild prairie, and even visits Ted Turner's progressive—and controversial—Montana ranch. In an exploration of the grasslands that is both sweeping and intimate, Manning shows us how we can successfully inhabit this and all landscapes.

The past, present, and future story of the Western and Midwestern grasslands--40% of our country--and of our own place in this land. In addressing one of today's hottest environmental topics, award-winning journalist Manning shows how the grass is not only our last connection to the natural world but a vital link to our own prehistoric roots.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Our culture's disrespect for grasslands has produced an environmental catastrophe, charges the author. By allowing overgrazing on public lands, our government is wiping out an ecosystem as vital as the Brazilian rain forests. In this sweeping exploration of the prairie, Manning (A Good House) makes an eloquent plea to restore it. Cattle, loss of habitat, fragmentation, climate change and invasion of exotic species have wrought severe damage. Manning takes us from Ted Turner's bison ranch in Montana to Wes Jackson's Land Institute in Kansas; from the Sandos ranch in Nebraska to the Walnut Creek Preserve in Iowa, which is being restored to native tall-grass prairie. Any restoration, he stresses, must include bison. The author urges that we change grazing practices, arguing that ideally there would be bison grazing on open ranges, with cattle as a second choice-but only on large tracts. He states that we need to match agriculture to conditions, instead of remaking the conditions. A thoughtful and provocative look at prairie ecology. (Sept.)
Booknews
The author, an award-winning journalist and nature writer, looks at the grasslands of the American West and Midwest, tracing the region from pre-history to the present. He discusses attempts to control the land and efforts to restore native grasses and wild herds of buffalo, and visits Ted Turner's progressive and controversial Montana ranch. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140233889
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 792,711
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Manning is the author of Grassland, A Good House, and Last Stand, a finalist for the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. He worked as a reporter for fifteen years, including four years at the Missoulian. A recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University and a three-time winner of the Seattle Times C.B. Blethen Award for Investigative Journalism, he has also won the Audubon Society Journalism Award and the first Richard J. Margolis Award for environmental reporting. His work has appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers, including Harper's, Audubon, Outside, Sierra, E, High Country News, and the Bloomsbury Review. Richard Manning lives in the house he built with his wife in Lolo, Montana.

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Table of Contents

Grassland1. The Promise of Grass

2. Forsaking the Sweet Grass Hills

3. What the Wind Carries

4. A Lasting Peace

5. Gridlock

6. the End of Grass

7. Annihilation

8. Aliens

9. Roadside Attractions

10. A Place's Assertion

11. Seeds

12. Agenda, Anti-Agenda

13. Enclosure

Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 13, 2010

    Fantastic book about the American Prairie/ West

    This is a great book that presents where we have been, where we are and where we might be headed in the American prairie and the American West. He includes a little bit of everything to paint a picture of this often forgot about place. Every person interested in farming, ranching, politics of place or environmentalism should read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2002

    Critique of the land owners

    Manning emphasizes the disappearance of the buffalo as maybe the most important fact of the last 150 years in the Plains states. He criticizes the actions of both the farmers and ranchers who have tamed the grasslands-the ranchers by placing the first fences and by farmers for digging up precious grasslands. Manning has his own saved prairie-land and hunts there. Why not? That is what the land was for 10,000 years. It is a book that will make people get out of their chairs and into the fight for the environment.

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