The American West has always been as much a symbol as a location; as much a myth as a destination. "If land and religion are what people most often kill each other over," writes Timothy Egan, "then the West is different only in that the land is the religion. As such, the basic struggle is between the West of possibility and the West of possession." This struggle for possession is a recurring theme in Lasso the Wind, involving individuals such as Kit Laney, the "Last Cowboy in America," who defiantly refuses to pay for grazing rights on public land; Patricia Mulroy, the head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, who works to bring more water to Las Vegas' casinos, golf courses, and subdivisions, even if it means damming the Virgin River running through Zion National Park in Utah; and Robert P. McCulloch, a zealous developer who reassembled each stone of the London Bridge in the Arizona desert in an attempt to draw people to his contrived dream town. These 14 enlightening and entertaining essays are the result of Egan's tour of the 11 states "on the sunset side of the 100th meridian," which led him from remote villages without road access to sprawling suburbs carved out of parched earth and desert rock in an attempt to see how the history of the West--binding myths and all--has left its imprint on the West's present condition.
The Pacific Northwest correspondent for the New York Times and a first-rate storyteller, Egan writes with humor and a gimlet eye, proving himself a reliable guide to a wildly diverse region on the cusp of old and new. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In a freewheeling, deeply meditative journey across "the big empty" (the 11 contiguous states west of the 100th Meridian), Egan, the Pacific Northwest correspondent for the New York Times, attempts to understand the American West, a place caught between myth and modernity. Beginning in Jackson Hole, Wyo., at a gathering of writers, ranchers and Native Americans debating "the next hundred years in the American West," Egan sets out across the vast landscape, using a different city as a jumping-off point in each chapter. What emerges is a portrait of the new West constantly at odds with the old: defiant cattlemen fight to preserve their dying industry, passing protective laws in the name of "custom and culture"; the residents of Butte, Mont., wait for the toxic waste from a huge abandoned copper mine to overflow and destroy the once-prosperous city; and everywhere ambitious communities such as Las Vegas scramble for more of the precious water that would bring life to the desert?life, that is, in the form of residential complexes with lush grass lawns. Egan's travelogue occasionally ties itself in knots, shifting continuously from past to present in an effort to evoke the multilayered history of the area. But his love for the land is tangible and his erudition impressive. Alongside tales of Indians ousted from their land and corporate plundering are striking factoids (e.g., Ted Turner now owns 1.5% of the state of New Mexico) and shadowy chapters in history, like the 1857 Mountain Meadow Massacre in St. George, Utah, in which over 120 Arkansas emigrants were murdered by Mormon "rescuers" in an attack ordered by church officials, according to Egan. If any effort to capture the American West on the printed page is as futile as the title of this book suggests, Egan's sobering and honest picture at least succeeds in conveying its vitality and myriad contradictions.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I couldn't put the book down. This is the third book of Egan's I have read (The Worst Hard Time and The Big Burn were the others). Read morePublished 4 days ago by kyle strenge
Timothy did a masterful job in describing the character of several western states. After reading the Utah chapter, I decided it should be in all 14 of the library collections... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Burr Fancher
I heard the writer talk on a tv show. to me his lecture was far better than his book. if you have an interest in history of this type you could like this book.Published 4 months ago by Charlene H. Smith
While skillfully written and usually well-researched, Egan's commitment to Political Correctness makes this collection somewhat uninspiring. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Hobo Eddy
If you ever wondered why things are the way they evolved in the American West, this is a great read. It's told in a casual, historical, but not overly so manor. Read morePublished 6 months ago by John E. Jensen
It was the best read of the West that I have ever read! His research and his foresight are so right on the mark! Read morePublished 9 months ago by BELEN M. DUARTE
To understand our mistakes, our opportunities our yet truer and most soul nourishing potential before it's all gone I want everyone to read Timothy Egan's books.Published 9 months ago by Kathy Dellwo
Excellent read by Timothy Egan for history buffs and those interested in the West. I love anything he writes and this doesn't disappoint. His best is "Breaking Blue. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Hoosier girl!