Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West / Edition 1

Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West / Edition 1

by Donald Worster
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195058208

ISBN-13: 9780195058208

Pub. Date: 04/16/1992

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

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…  See more details below

Overview

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 the environment 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 Wors

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195058208
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/16/1992
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.21(d)

Table of Contents

1Beyond the Agrarian Myth3
2New West, True West19
3Cowboy Ecology34
4Hydraulic Society in California53
5Hoover Dam: A Study in Domination64
6Freedom and Want: The Western Paradox79
7Grassland Follies: Agricultural Capitalism on the Plains93
8The Black Hills: Sacred or Profane?106
9Alaska: The Underworld Erupts154
10Grounds for Identity225
11A Country Without Secrets238
Notes255
Index281

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