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Llano Estacado: An Island in the Sky (Voice in the American West) Hardcover – April 1, 2011

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The Llano Estacado, Coronado's legendary "staked plains," comprises all or part of thirty-three counties in Texas and four in New Mexico. This enormous island of grass covers approximately 32,000 square miles of arid prairie used primarily today for ranching and farming. It lies atop the vast Ogalalla Aquifer--its primary source of water--and partially covers the oil-bearing Permian Basin. Its population, outside of four mid-sized cities, is sparse.

The Llano has always required and appealed to discerning eyes. The artists and writers gathered here are hardly the first to have felt the pull of this place or the urgency to capture its essence. Yet the idiosyncrasies and ideals, the successes and failures, the strangeness and beauty and power of the land and its people beckon fresh discovery. Look at the Llano with eyes open to possibility, and you will encounter the unexpected, a keener understanding of the ways in which landscape and life are always inescapably intertwined, thrumming, as Barry Lopez suggests, the eternal questions: Where are we? And where do we go from here?

About the Author

A former archivist at the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University, Stephen Bogener is currently professor of history at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.

William Tydeman is an archivist at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University, where he oversees the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community and the Natural World.

Award-winning author Barry Lopez is the Visiting Distinguished Scholar at Texas Tech University. He lives in Oregon.

Product Details

  • Series: Voice in the American West
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Texas Tech University Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896726827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896726826
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 0.9 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,402,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The Llano Escatado spans much of northwestern Texas and eastern New Mexico. It is an elevated plain of sun, grass, and sky. It "stretches for 250 miles north to south, two hundred miles east to west, and is culturally and geographically an island." It makes a mark on those who traverse it and takes the measure of those who live there.

The notion behind LLANO ESCATADO: AN ISLAND IN THE SKY was to try to capture the Llano Escatado's "sense of place" through photographs and text. The book features photographs of the Llano by six different photographers, taken during 2005. Supplementing the photographs are a 28-page essay about the history of the Llano by Stephen Bogener and short pieces from six different authors who were asked simply to write something about their experiences with the Llano.

By and large, the photographs are much more successful than the prose. Four of the portfolios are in color, the other two in black-and-white. My favorite two portfolios (by Miguel Gandert and Tony Gleaton) are the black-and-white ones, although that may be due in part to my natural preference for black-and-white photography as well as to the fact that those two sets of photos feature people much more extensively than do the color portfolios. Still, the photographs - both black-and-white and color - constitute the reason to get the book or seek it out in a library.

Of the essays, the most valuable one is the longer one by Stephen Bogener, which provides a useful historical overview of the Llano. Of the remaining six, two were worthwhile (the ones by William Kittredge and Annick Smith), two were so-so, and two should not have been published. And while I am in my critical paragraph, I will bemoan the lack of a map.
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