edited by Patricia Nelson Limerick, Andrew Cowell and Sharon K. Collinge
University of Arizona Press, 2009
eISBN: 978-0-8165-4925-2 | Paper: 978-0-8165-2599-7
Library of Congress Classification F591.R425 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 304.280978

This wide-ranging collection of essays is intended to provoke both thought and action. The pieces collected here explore a variety of issues facing the American West—disappearing Native American languages, deteriorating air quality, suburban sprawl, species loss, grassland degradation, and many others—and suggest steps toward “healing.” More than “dealing with” or “solving,” according to the editors, healing addresses not just symptoms but their underlying causes, offering not just a temporary cure but a permanent one.

The signs of illness and trauma can seem omnipresent in today’s West: land and soil disrupted from mining, overgrazing, logging, and farming; wildlife habitat reduced and fragmented; native societies disturbed and threatened; open space diminished by cities and suburbs; wilderness destroyed by roads and recreation-seekers. But as these essays suggest, the “treatment program” for healing the West has many healthful side effects. Engaging in the kinds of projects suggested by contributors is therapeutic not only for the environment but for participants as well. Restoration, repair, and recovery can counter symptoms of despair with concentrated doses of promise and possibility.

The more “lesions” the West has, this book suggests, the more opportunities there are for westerners to revive and ultimately cure the ailing patient they have helped to create. The very idea of restoring the West to health, contributors and editors contend, unleashes our imaginations, sharpens our minds, and gives meaning to the ways we choose to live our lives. At the same time, acknowledging the profound difficulties of the work that lies ahead immunizes us against our own arrogance as we set about the task of healing the West.