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

By Donald Worster

The West continues to be unsettled--by cultural behavior, highbrow debate, and ecological stipulations. In those 4 essays, which have been provided because the 1992 Calvin P. Horn Lectures in Western historical past and tradition, Donald Worster incisively discusses the position of the ordinary setting 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 by means of nation, technological know-how, 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 nice Plains.

The panorama of the West has for too lengthy been a disadvantage to be conquer. yet in Worster's view it really is in seeing how humans have handled and, all too usually, mishandled nature that offers urgency to raised knowing the region's ecological heritage. Worster argues for a brand new courting of western humans to their atmosphere in keeping with merits to a group instead of on earnings to individuals.

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Sample text

Violent men once fought for supremacy, the film recalls, but law won out. The town moved from rule by might to rule by democratic elections. According to the film, the story of the West is one of turning nature into artifact. " By modern ideas of justice, Ford may not seem adequately enlightened because he puts white males in the foreground of that creative process. Today, many historians would insist that the making of the West must be seen as the work equally of women and of men, and of Indians, Hispanos, African-Americans, and other citizens, too.

Consequently the region would never have a single comprehensive identity; despite Powell's hope, there is no single place to stand and take in the whole picture, the entire history, the full experience of many human beings. Western history today is rightly understood as requiring us to see the place from every angle of vision, including that of every race, class, and gender. But the diverse peoples of the West have had something in common, too: a big, concrete, powerful landscape of rock, vapor, climate, and all its patterns of structure and process.

All of that land was under American ownership. What could be made of it? How might it heal a wounded civilization? They called that great space ''the West,'' meaning the part of the country where the passions of the Civil War had been less bitterly felt, the battlefields had been fewer, the old rivalries less rooted and intense. The West was wherever the North and South faded away. Its borders were still a little vague, of course, as regions always are, and the indefiniteness would persist for a long while, as settlers brought into the West their old identities, their bitterness, their tattered uniforms and wartime weapons.

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