Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Five top books on the American West

Ivan Doig was born in Montana and grew up along the Rocky Mountain Front, the dramatic landscape that has inspired much of his writing. A former ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, with a Ph.D. in history, Doig's novels include The Whistling Season, The Eleventh Man, and the newly released Sweet Thunder. His nonfiction includes his classic first book, the memoir This House of Sky. He has been a National Book Award finalist and has received the Wallace Stegner Award, a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western Literature Association, and multiple PNBA and MPBA Book Awards, among other honors.

At The Daily Beast, Doig named five of his favorite books on the American West, including:
The American West as Living Space
by Wallace Stegner

Once when I asked a prominent historian what he thought of the many writings by Stegner, novelist and English department star at Harvard and Stanford, about the background and the West, he didn’t hesitate: “He hits the nail on the head every time, damn him.” This trio of essays, a mere 86 pages of text delivered as a set of university lectures, is a marvel—composed nearly 30 years before fracking, pine beetle kill of forests from Colorado to British Columbia, unprecedented fire seasons with suburbs on the front line—of exploring his great theme of the country west of the rain-halting 98th Meridian, the clash of its ecologies and its cultures.
Read about the other books on Doig's list.

--Marshal Zeringue