PrairyErth

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9780395486023: PrairyErth

Eight years in the making--a new American classic from the author of Blue Highways. William Least Heat-Moon's genius in PrairyErth lies in constructing a "deep map" of the Great Plains by penetrating time and space within a tiny portion of it: Chase County, Kansas. This story of Chase County's history, legends, heroes, and its extraordinary people looms as large as the universe itself. Maps, drawings.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Under the name of William Least Heat-Moon, William Trogdon is the author of two best-selling classics BLUE HIGHWAYS and PRAIRYERTH. His newest book is RIVER-HORSE: A VOYAGE ACR0SS AMERICA. He lives in Columbia, Missouri.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Along this fossil highway, even though it lies in the bottomlands
that have always belonged mostly to the trees, I am walking in the
time of the birth of the tallgrass prairie, that epoch when turfy
perennials - bluestems and gramas, panicums and ryes - began covering
the American interior as the old sea, now turned to a limestone
anchor, once did. Down in here, the rock is the worn concrete, yet,
as hard as it is, the cement road is nevertheless a fissured seedbed,
a string of a glade full of brand-new prairie, an extinct highway
giving birth to grassland.

Now: I've walked half this remnant, and I've found big bluestem and
little bluestem, silvery bluestem, cord grass, wild rye, sunflower,
bundle flower, catclaw sensitive briar, and also plants of the
woodlands, including a clump of garden iris from I don't know where.
But this strip is not a relict Pleistocene prairie because there
probably never was much grass in this low spot in the bottoms: a
vestigial highway, yes, but a new prairie. The native forbs and
grasses have come in on the wind and maybe on the floods, and now
they have roots under the pavement, and soon the prairie plants will
need fire to clear away the shading and moisture-sucking trees, and
until then the infant prairie can do little more than begin.

Prairie birth: in an earlier time, men believed the grasslands came
as a consequence of infertile ground, or an absence of coarse soil
material, or from glaciation, from bison trampling, lightning fires,
Indian fires, from persistent wind, drought, temperature extremes.

But Chase County has good soil of various composition, the ice sheets
did not reach here, and the temperature range and rainfall differ
only a little from the woodlands of Missouri. The other "reasons" -
fire, wind, grazing - contribute less to the birth of prairie than to
its maintenance. No: the source of the prairie is its midcontinental
position, far from tempering seas, where it lies under an eolian
cleavage zone that mixes westerlies, wrung dry by the Rocky
Mountains, with humid air from the Gulf: here, inches of evaporation
and precipitation are nearly equal, and here, above my head, the rain-
shadow of the Rockies meets in commensurate strength the humid Gulf
fronts so that this land can grow ten-foot grasses and ninety-foot
sycamores, and which one prevails depends mostly on one thing: fire.
In the last half-century, the balance has careened toward trees
because white men have suppressed the keeper of the grasses. To the
prairie, the voice of the Great Mysterious speaks in three tongues:
water, wind, flame. This glade beginning in the abandoned highway has
heard the first two, and now this slender quarter mile of incipient
prairie could use a tossed cigarette from a Santa Fe trackman so that
the highway can flourish as never before.

Copyright (C)1992 by William Least Heat-Moon. Reprinted by permission
by Houghton Mifflin Company.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Heat-Moon, William Least
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Book Description Houghton Mifflin, New York, N.Y., USA, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. First Edition, with correct number line sequence, no writing, marks, underlining, or bookplates. No remainder marks. Spine is tight and crisp. Boards are flat and true and the corners are square. Dust jacket is not price-clipped. This collectible, " NEW" condition first edition/first printing copy is protected with a polyester archival dust jacket cover. Beautiful collectible copy. GIFT QUALITY. Bookseller Inventory # 004493

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Book Description Houghton Mifflin, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. This first edition was signed by the author and stamped with the official PrairyErth Day Commemorative Seal on October 19, 1991 in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. 1504 copies were signed during the festivities that day which also included music, dancing, e. Signed By Author. Bookseller Inventory # 68518

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