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Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Hidden Wars of the American West

Overview

"A beautiful, absorbing, tragic book."—Larry McMurtry


In 1851, a war began in what would become Yosemite National Park, a war against the indigenous inhabitants. A century later–in 1951–and a hundred and fifty miles away, another war began when the U.S. government started setting off nuclear bombs at the Nevada Test Site. It was called a nuclear testing program, but functioned as a war against the land and people of the Great Basin.


In this foundational book of landscape ...

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Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Hidden Wars of the American West

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Overview

"A beautiful, absorbing, tragic book."—Larry McMurtry


In 1851, a war began in what would become Yosemite National Park, a war against the indigenous inhabitants. A century later–in 1951–and a hundred and fifty miles away, another war began when the U.S. government started setting off nuclear bombs at the Nevada Test Site. It was called a nuclear testing program, but functioned as a war against the land and people of the Great Basin.


In this foundational book of landscape theory and environmental thinking, Rebecca Solnit explores our national Eden and Armageddon and offers a pathbreaking history of the west, focusing on the relationship between culture and its implementation as politics.
In a new preface, she considers the continuities and changes of these invisible wars in the context of our current climate change crisis, and reveals how the long arm of these histories continue to inspire her writing and hope.

Behind the scenic beauty of the American West is a bloody history of conquest, conflict, and exploitation. Part travelogue, part history, and part literary meditation on the landscape, this book describes in convincing detail how this violent heritage has left the region with many unresolved problems and much ongoing suffering.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Since 1951, the U.S. has set off more than 900 nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site, and recently Yucca Mountain in the state was chosen as a major radioactive waste dump. According to Solnit, an art historian, environmentalist and antinuclear activist, the federal government is hell-bent on rendering public and Shoshone lands ``useless for everyone for all time.'' She explores two federally managed landscapes: the Nevada Test Site, which she characterizes as Armageddon, and California's Yosemite National Park, which she links to Eden. She depicts the latter in its change from native stronghold to war zone during the 19th-century annihilation of Indians to today's tourist attraction. Flinging her net wide, Solnit evokes powerful images of destruction and conquest as she explores governmental abuses in the region. Oct.
Booknews
Solnit (art history, San Francisco Art Institute) offers a first- person account of her expeditions in California and Nevada, focusing on the politics and history of the Nevada Test Site and Yosemite National Park. She explores the connections between the political history of the West and its cultural history, which has been obscured by the reality of the violent past. Solnit weaves the story of the Danns, two Western Shoshone sisters who have fought the US government in an effort to reclaim their ancestral lands, into her narrative. Lacks an index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520282285
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/6/2014
  • Edition description: First Edition, 20th Anniversary Edition, with a New Preface
  • Pages: 440
  • Sales rank: 811,920

Meet the Author

Rebecca Solnit is the author of many books, including Storming the Gates of Paradise,
Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas
, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, all from UC Press.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
New Preface

DUST, OR ERASING THE FUTURE: THE NEVADA TEST SITE
From Hell to Breakfast
Like Moths to a Candle
April Fool's Day
Trees
Lise Meitner's Walking Shoes
Golden Hours and Iron County
Ruby Valley and the Ranch
The War
Keeping Pace with the Tortoise

WATER, OR FORGETTING THE PAST: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
The Rainbow
Spectators
Framing the View
Vanishing (Remaining)
Fire in the Garden
The Name of the Snake
Up the River of Mercy
Savage's Grave
Full Circle

Afterword
Sources

Index

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