In addition to books published through the Public Lands History book series with the University of Oklahoma Press, the PLHC proudly announces the release of other recent publications written by members of our faculty council, our adjunct faculty affiliates, and affiliate scholars at other institutions.
by Adrian Howkins (Associate Professor of History, Colorado State University; PLHC Faculty Council member)
Polity (November 2015)
248 pages, hardcover ISBN 9780745670805
The environmental histories of the Arctic and Antarctica are characterised by contrast and contradiction. These are places that have witnessed some of the worst environmental degradation in recent history. But they are also the locations of some of the most farsighted measures of environmental protection. They are places where people have sought to conquer nature through exploration and economic development, but in many ways they remain wild and untamed. They are the coldest places on Earth, yet have come to occupy an important role in the science and politics of global warming.
Despite being located at opposite ends of the planet and being significantly different in many ways, Adrian Howkins argues that the environmental histories of the Arctic and Antarctica share much in common and have often been closely connected. This book also argues that the Polar Regions are strongly linked to the rest of the world, both through physical processes and through intellectual and political themes. As places of inherent contradiction, the Polar Regions have much to contribute to the way we think about environmental history and the environment more generally.
by Thomas G. Andrews (Associate Professor of History, University of Colorado Boulder)
Harvard University Press (October 2015)
Illustrated, 352 pages, hardcover, ISBN 9780674088573
This publication developed out of a PLHC project to write an environmental history of Rocky Mountain National Park’s Kawuneeche Valley.
What can we learn from a high-country valley tucked into an isolated corner of Rocky Mountain National Park? In this pathbreaking book, Thomas Andrews offers a meditation on the environmental and historical pressures that have shaped and reshaped one small stretch of North America, from the last ice age to the advent of the Anthropocene and the latest controversies over climate change.
Large-scale historical approaches continue to make monumental contributions to our understanding of the past, Andrews writes. But they are incapable of revealing everything we need to know about the interconnected workings of nature and human history. Alongside native peoples, miners, homesteaders, tourists, and conservationists, Andrews considers elk, willows, gold, mountain pine beetles, and the Colorado River as vital historical subjects. Integrating evidence from several historical fields with insights from ecology, archaeology, geology, and wildlife biology, this work simultaneously invites scientists to take history seriously and prevails upon historians to give other ways of knowing the past the attention they deserve.
From the emergence and dispossession of the Nuche—“the People”—who for centuries adapted to a stubborn environment, to settlers intent on exploiting the land, to forest-destroying insect invasions and a warming climate that is pushing entire ecosystems to the brink of extinction, Coyote Valley underscores the value of deep drilling into local history for core relationships—to the land, climate, and other species—that complement broader truths. This book brings to the surface the critical lessons that only small and seemingly unimportant places on Earth can teach.
by Jared Orsi (Associate Professor of History, Colorado State University; PLHC Faculty Council member)
Oxford University Press (January 2014)
Illustrated, 392 pages, hardcover, ISBN 9780199768721
It was November 1806. The explorers had gone without food for one day, then two. Their leader, not yet thirty, drove on, determined to ascend the great mountain. Waist deep in snow, he reluctantly turned back. But Zebulon Pike had not been defeated. His name remained on the unclimbed peak-and new adventures lay ahead of him and his republic.
In Citizen Explorer, historian Jared Orsi provides the first modern biography of this soldier and explorer, who rivaled contemporaries Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Born in 1779, Pike joined the army and served in frontier posts in the Ohio River valley before embarking on a series of astonishing expeditions. He sought the headwaters of the Mississippi and later the sources of the Arkansas and Red Rivers, which led him to Pike’s Peak and capture by Spanish forces. Along the way, he met Aaron Burr and General James Wilkinson; Auguste and Pierre Couteau, patriarchs of St. Louis’s most powerful fur-trading family, who sought to make themselves indispensible to Jefferson’s administration; as well as British fur-traders, Native Americans, and officers of the Spanish empire, all of whom resisted the expansion of the United States. Through Pike’s life, Orsi examines how American nationalism thinned as it stretched west, from the Jeffersonian idealism on the Atlantic to a practical, materialist sensibility on the frontier. Surveying and gathering data, Pike sought to incorporate these distant territories into the republic, to overlay the west with the American map grid; yet he became increasingly dependent for survival on people who had no attachment to the nation he served. He eventually died in that service, in a victorious battle in the War of 1812.
Written from an environmental perspective, rich in cultural and political context, Citizen Explorer is a state-of-the-art biography of a remarkable man.
by Mark Fiege (Associate Professor of History, Colorado State University; PLHC Faculty Council member)
University of Washington Press (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series) (July 2013)
Illustrated, 600 pages, hardcover & paperback, ISBN 9780295993294
In the dramatic narratives that comprise The Republic of Nature, Mark Fiege reframes the canonical account of American history based on the simple but radical premise that nothing in the nation’s past can be considered apart from the natural circumstances in which it occurred. Revisiting historical icons so familiar that schoolchildren learn to take them for granted, he makes surprising connections that enable readers to see old stories in a new light.
Among the historical moments revisited here, a revolutionary nation arises from its environment and struggles to reconcile the diversity of its people with the claim that nature is the source of liberty. Abraham Lincoln, an unlettered citizen from the countryside, steers the Union through a moment of extreme peril, guided by his clear-eyed vision of nature’s capacity for improvement. In Topeka, Kansas, transformations of land and life prompt a lawsuit that culminates in the momentous civil rights case of Brown v. Board of Education.
By focusing on materials and processes intrinsic to all things and by highlighting the nature of the United States, Fiege recovers the forgotten and overlooked ground on which so much history has unfolded. In these pages, the nation’s birth and development, pain and sorrow, ideals and enduring promise come to life as never before, making a once-familiar past seem new. The Republic of Nature points to a startlingly different version of history that calls on readers to reconnect with fundamental forces that shaped the American experience.