Okay, if you want to add a book about the West to your reading quiver then look no further than “This Land,” by Christopher Ketchum. If you are living under the misguided idea that our land, your land, is being protected and preserved then this book will gut you like no other. And don’t for a second think the destruction, corruption, and eradication is limited to one party or the other. Its’ not. This is about greed, myth and unbridled capitalism unleashed through a morbidly corrupt system that does not have our best interest, our future or our country at heart.
I was fortunate. I grew up country, in places like Indiana, Wyoming, and Texas, although the Texas part was fringe of city which was rapidly expanding and is now a place I dread even visiting. I’ve seen wild nature. I’ve seen untouched places. Many have not. We now have multiple generations of Americans who have grown up with no connection to the land. None. Wilderness areas are places with no cell signal, no coffee shops and no place to buy things. Look at the percentage of people who visit the grand canyon and never get out of their car.
Ketchum walks us through a myriad of bad decisions, corruption and the near-endless bowing to the pressure of livestock and extraction. Me, I’m a realist. I don’t think there is anything we can do to stop this. We are too far gone, too corrupt, too distracted. Sure, there are occasional battles won but the war is one-sided and won’t get any easier until the real issue is gone. Us. When our species flames out these places will return and return with a vengeance. Until then, learn what you can and get out to see what actual wilderness is. But do it as lightly as humanly possible. No need to make photographs. No need to make films. Just experience the place without any artificial filter and attempt to understand the patterns, sounds, and rhythm of place.
Get it, read it and buy a copy for a friend.