The Western Paradox: A Bernard DeVoto Conservation Reader

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Rudolph M. Wolves and Men in America. Jon T. The second part of the book, with six roiling chapters, was finally edited fifty years after his death. But DeVoto seesawed on a knife edge of his own. At the same time that he railed about the political dangers of Dodge City or Denver believing in their own propaganda, he loved life beyond the th Meridian, effusively.


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  4. As often as he was critical, feuding, and combative, DeVoto was breathless about the West. Of the same towns that put on their hokey Frontier Weeks, he wrote:.

    The Western Paradox: A Conservation Reader

    So much space, so much sparkling air, so much lawn and forest, so much sunlight, so much natural beauty, such easy access to wilderness and silence, such facilities for recreation. If the Westerners are not quite free they are at least free and easy. But rather than merely introducing another historical theory replete with statistics, DeVoto identifies behavior and reports the story. The ill-suited requirements of the Homestead Act quickly devastated most homesteads. How were land-hungry, opportunity-grasping entrepreneurs with perverted preconceptions of the frontier supposed to act?

    From the get-go, it was nigh impossible to abide by the law and make a profit at the same time.

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    The first westerners came upon land that could never satisfy their ambitions. They embraced a fantasy, and ended up fighting deflation; the Big Freeze of ; drops in productivity due to obvious, unchecked, violently enforced overgrazing; and investor loses.

    The Western Paradox, by Bernard DeVoto

    Westerners never adjusted their customs to live in the arid West. They simply arrived too fast to unlearn what it had taken the forested frontier years to teach. And the results were spectacularly harmful and irreparably heartbreaking for the land.

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