Donald Worster's An unsettled country: changing landscapes of the American PDF

By Donald Worster

ISBN-10: 0826314821

ISBN-13: 9780826314826

The West continues to be unsettled--by cultural behavior, highbrow debate, and ecological stipulations. In those 4 essays, that have been provided because the 1992 Calvin P. Horn Lectures in Western background and tradition, Donald Worster incisively discusses the function of the usual atmosphere within the making of the West--and frequently in its unmaking and remaking. His topics are 4 associated subject matters: the legacy of John Wesley Powell to western source administration; the domination of water coverage via country, technology, and capital because the mid-nineteenth century; the destiny of natural world within the push to settle the West; and the specter of international warming to the good Plains.

The panorama of the West has for too lengthy been a disadvantage to be conquer. yet in Worster's view it truly is in seeing how humans have handled and, all too frequently, mishandled nature that provides urgency to raised figuring out the region's ecological heritage. Worster argues for a brand new courting of western humans to their atmosphere in response to merits to a neighborhood instead of on earnings to individuals.

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Extra resources for An unsettled country: changing landscapes of the American West

Example text

Despite thousands of years of residence, and much intelligent trial-and-error experimentation, Indians had still not turned those native western plants into major foodstuffs, but had continued to rely on maize, pumpkins, and beans introduced from other parts of the hemisphere. Even then they found they could cultivate them in only a few favorable locations. One might argue that they had been trapped by their cultural heritage as much as confronted by nature's patterns of aridity, but to make that argument would be to assume that plant domestication is a completely open possibility.

Davis, for example, understood the National Reclamation Act, passed in 1902, just a short while before Powell died, to be a triumphant vindication of his senior's campaign to promote irrigation in the West. Much later a Michigan geologist imagined Powell lying sick up there in Maine, being "greatly cheered" on hearing the news of that congressional action. No less a friend than Grove Karl Gilbert, fellow geologist, coauthor of the 1878 Report on the Arid Lands, claimed that Powell had been the inspiration and genius behind the act.

The pioneers encountered some of the world's driest deserts, victimized by unrelenting atmospheric currents that pulled water vapor from the distant Pacific Ocean, dropped it in the high Sierras and Rockies, and left the low-lying lands parched and deadly. This elemental landscape presented an altogether new kind of wildness beyond European or eastern American experience, which had long been defined as a struggle to create farms out of dark green forests. The West was a more extreme wildnesssunlight against shadow, heat against cold, granite against water.

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An unsettled country: changing landscapes of the American West by Donald Worster


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