Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics, and Promise of the American Prairie

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Viking, 1995 - Nature - 306 pages
In Grassland, journalist and nature writer Richard Manning takes a critical look at the largest and most misunderstood biome in our country, the grasslands of the American West and Midwest, which encompass a full 40 percent of the land. Manning traces the expansion of America and explains how, through farming and industry, we have habitually imposed our romantic ideals onto the land with little interest in understanding and learning from that land. The repercussions of our abuses of the grassland systems run far and deep. The grass provides not only our last connection to the natural world, but a vital link to our prehistoric roots, and to our history and culture, from roads, railroads, and agriculture to the literature of the plains. Over the course of the book, which is framed by the story of a remarkable elk whose mysterious wanderings seem to reclaim his ancestral plains, Manning looks back 12,000 years to this continent's earliest settlers, and farther, to know more about our native - and long extinct - mammals and why they perished and the invaders survived. He considers our attempts over the last 200 years to control unpredictable land through plowing, grazing, and landscaping. He introduces botanists and biologists who are restoring native grasses, literally follows the first herd of buffalo restored to wild prairie, and even visits Ted Turner's progressive - and controversial - Montana ranch.

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A powerful eulogy to the great American grasslands and an informed look at where they have been and where they are heading. Grasslands are among the world's great biomes, but our culture's disrespect ... Read full review

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-grasslands, more important than most of us realize Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Richard Manning is the author of Last Stand, A Good House, Grassland, and One Round River. He lives in Montana.

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