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

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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

Eleven eloquent essays by one of the leading new western historians explore our environmental history, uncover the role of nature and the land in the western past, and examine the West as the world's first multicultural society.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195086713
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.31 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Donald Worster is Hall Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Dust Bowl, Rivers of Empire, and other works of history.

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Table of Contents

1 Beyond the Agrarian Myth 3
2 New West, True West 19
3 Cowboy Ecology 34
4 Hydraulic Society in California 53
5 Hoover Dam: A Study in Domination 64
6 Freedom and Want: The Western Paradox 79
7 Grassland Follies: Agricultural Capitalism on the Plains 93
8 The Black Hills: Sacred or Profane? 106
9 Alaska: The Underworld Erupts 154
10 Grounds for Identity 225
11 A Country Without Secrets 238
Notes 255
Index 281
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