Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West

Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West

by Timothy Egan
     
 

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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Winner of the Mountains and Plains Book Seller's Association Award

"Sprawling in scope. . . . Mr. Egan uses the past powerfully to explain and give dimension to the present." —The New York Times

"Fine reportage . . . honed and polished until it reads more like literature than

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Overview

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Winner of the Mountains and Plains Book Seller's Association Award

"Sprawling in scope. . . . Mr. Egan uses the past powerfully to explain and give dimension to the present." —The New York Times

"Fine reportage . . . honed and polished until it reads more like literature than journalism." —Los Angeles Times

"They have tried to tame it, shave it, fence it, cut it, dam it, drain it, nuke it, poison it, pave it, and subdivide it," writes Timothy Egan of the West; still, "this region's hold on the American character has never seemed stronger." In this colorful and revealing journey through the eleven states west of the 100th meridian, Egan, a third-generation westerner, evokes a lovely and troubled country where land is religion and the holy war between preservers and possessors never ends.

Egan leads us on an unconventional, freewheeling tour: from America's oldest continuously inhabited community, the Ancoma Pueblo in New Mexico, to the high kitsch of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where London Bridge has been painstakingly rebuilt stone by stone; from the fragile beauty of Idaho's Bitterroot Range to the gross excess of Las Vegas, a city built as though in defiance of its arid environment. In a unique blend of travel writing, historical reflection, and passionate polemic, Egan has produced a moving study of the West: how it became what it is, and where it is going.

"The writing is simply wonderful. From the opening paragraph, Egan seduces the reader. . . . Entertaining, thought provoking."
The Arizona Daily Star Weekly

"A western breeziness and love of open spaces shines through Lasso the Wind. . . . The writing is simple and evocative."
The Economist

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lasso the Wind is like a good road trip across the West. You drive, you stop to camp, you fall in love, and then you decide to stay. Egan's words are helping to settle the political chaos of this changing landscape. Alongside his sharp eye for details and clarity of mind is an ethical spine that is helping to shape the new West. I'm so glad he's here."
—Terry Tempest Williams

"Here is the REAL West of today—some of it still Old West, much of it New—told in wonderful, entertaining style by one of America's most perceptive journalists. Egan is himself a well-rooted Westerner, and we couldn't ask for a better guide to all the excitement and change going on out there today."
—Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.

Sylvester
In the best chapters, Mr. Egan uses the past powerfully, to explain and give dimension to the present. . . .But in between there is too much lassoing of wind, . . . .an often powerful, but flawed look at the American West grappling with its past on the frontier of the 21st century.
The New York Times
Timothy Foote
Effete Easterners will possibly want to fly out West, rent a car and follow in Egan's footsteps as he describes zinging around in the wide open spaces. -- New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a freewheeling, deeply meditative journey across 'the big empty' (the 11 contiguous states west of the 100th Meridian), Egan, the Pacific Northwest correspondent for the New York Times, attempts to understand the American West, a place caught between myth and modernity. Beginning in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at a gathering of writers, ranchers and Native Americans debating 'the next hundred years in the American West,' Egan sets out across the vast landscape, using a different city as a jumping-off point in each chapter. What emerges is a portrait of the new West constantly at odds with the old: defiant cattlemen fight to preserve their dying industry, passing protective laws in the name of 'custom and culture'; the residents of Butte, Montana, wait for the toxic waste from a huge abandoned copper mine to overflow and destroy the once-prosperous city; and everywhere ambitious communities such as Las Vegas scramble for more of the precious water that would bring life to the desert -- life, that is, in the form of residential complexes with lush grass lawns. Egan's travelogue occasionally ties itself in knots, shifting continuously from past to present in an effort to evoke the multi-layered history of the area. But his love for the land is tangible and his erudition impressive. Alongside tales of Indians ousted from their land and corporate plundering are striking factoids (e.g., Ted Turner now owns 1.5% of the state of New Mexico) and shadowy chapters in history, like the 1857 Mountain Meadow Massacre in St. George, Utah, in which over 120 Arkansas emigrants were murdered by Mormon 'rescuers' in an attack ordered by church officials, according to Egan. If any effort to capture the American West on the printed page is as futile as the title of this book suggests, Egan's sobering and honest picture at least succeeds in conveying its vitality and myriad contradictions.
Library Journal
A scratchy blend of conservationist and crusader, Egan (Pacific Northwest bureau chief, New York Times) continues his exploration of Western history, country, and customs. But this time, following The Good Rain (LJ 7/90), he expands his horizons to include Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and California (in addition to Washington and Oregon). Readers follow him as he searches for pictographs in Utah, fishes in Idaho's Bitterroot Mountains, and visits an ostrich ranch in Colorado. Through these journeys-filled with fascinating facts, unusual encounters, and an abiding concern for the future of America's West--Egan eagerly exposes the worst of Western history, though he fails to provide solutions to any of the problems that continue to plague the Western lands he obviously loves deeply. From the Spanish conquistadors to Brigham Young's Saints, few explorers or settlers escape Egan's uncomfortable scrutiny--and contemporary residents seldom fare better. Recommended for most public libraries.--Janet N. Ross, Washoe Cty. Lib. System, Sparks, NV
Kirkus Reviews
A sometimes arch, sometimes curmudgeonly, but always revealing tour of the modern Mountain West. That place, as New York Times Pacific Northwest correspondent Egan (Breaking Blue) delights in showing, trades on the myths of its past. Although the West celebrates stalwart do-gooders, lone heroes, and desperadoes in places like Deadwood and Tombstone, in fact it is and has always been highly corporatized, with a curious boss-driven politics that persists well into the present. The actor Bruce Willis found this out for himself, Egan writes, when, after buying up much of the little Idaho town of Hailey, he decided to launch a ballot initiative against nuclear-waste dumping in the vicinity. 'In the election,' Egan writes with evident glee, 'he was outgunned by fellow Republicans who favor a nuclear presence. He could have learned something from the Copper Kings: they never lost unless it was planned.' Similar clashes between old sensibilities and modern mores fuel much of Egan's narrative. He writes of a New Mexico man who, 'hiding in the woods of custom and culture,' has exploited local anti-government sentiment to defy U.S. Forest Service restrictions on cattle grazing in wilderness areas; of a Colorado entrepreneur who believes the future of Western agriculture lies in ostrich ranching; of the present Interior secretary, Bruce Babbitt, who has 'somewhat meekly' been working to undo environmental damage wrought over the last century; and of out-of-the-way places and people caught up in the rapidly changing region. Throughout, Egan writes with grim humor and thinly disguised anger, the justifiable rage of a native son fed up with the seemingly endless development anddestruction now being visited on the West in the name of progress. Solid reporting and storytelling make this a book of value to anyone interested in what is happening west of the Mississippi.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679781820
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/1999
Series:
Vintage Departures Series
Edition description:
1 VINTAGE
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
574,679
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.62(d)

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