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Recovering the Prairie

Recovering the Prairie
Robert F. Sayre (editor)
Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication Date: 
ISBN 0-299-16460-8

cloth, 225 p.,  $37.95

This book seeks to recover the prairie of the American imagination — past, present and future. It both examines and celebrates varying perspectives of past artists, writers, native people, ecologists and landscape architects.

The subject of Recovering the Prairie is the connection between aesthetics, economics, landscape, culture, politics and ethics of the land. Twenty-nine contributors have investigated these aspects of the prairie, which inspired an Iowa Museum of Art exhibit and a concurrent symposium. Chapters discuss Aldo Leopold, Willa Cather, Jens Jensen and Walt Whitman as well as native Americans, landscape reform, Alexander Gardner's photographs and other topics.

The prairie was a lost America, buried for a century, and we really don't know how it looked in its original state. But it has endured in physical and isolated remnants, in memories of settlers, in books and in the imagination of artists. Its recovery is challenged, and this book is an opportunity to bring its various aspects together, an ambitious undertaking. After reading this erudite book, or even some of its chapters, you will have a greater understanding and respect for prairie recovery, how land is used and how it is valued, both now and in the future.

— Adele Kleine, Garden Writer and Contributing Writer to Chicagoland Gardening magazine.