Everyone dreams of picking up and moving to a beach town, or a mountain town or a big city. To the extent that anyone mentions the Prairies at all, it often seems to be as a place to escape (Hillbilly Elegy) or pass through on the way to somewhere better, more interesting and more picturesque- the prairies are literal and metaphorical ‘fly-over country’. I grew up on the prairies’ edge (the beautiful, gently rolling hills of the aspen parkland) and technically still live there (this would be short grass prairie, if we hadn’t built a city over it). Savage’s non-fiction exploration of this land is a biography and a love letter, and I loved it right back.
This non-fiction book explains the incredible geological history of the prairies, the flora and fauna that live on it, the river systems that run through it, and the ecological value it holds- hopefully- for our future. There are so many fun, random facts that I have been proclaiming to anyone who will listen: the prairies used to be an ocean; the pronghorn is the second fastest land animal, a close second after the cheetah; grass sequesters more carbon per square inch than trees; the Yellowstone is the longest undammed river in the US.
Savage writes well, and keeps things moving at a good clip. My progress was slower not because the book was uninteresting but because there was so much to read and google (what a sage grouse looks like; where the Flint Hills are; where the Red River is in Texas).
I gained such an appreciation for the prairies and have been recommending this book to everyone.