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The Editors Essay Review A number of books I have read during the past year or so seem to me to evoke with marked effect what I will call the personality of place— as it is variously manifested in certain isolated communities and sub-regions of the West. And the American West—which has long suffered one poor cliche stereotype— is in need of such books. Whether these writers are European dudes of a century ago, contemporary newcomers, or native biographers, his­ torians, and novelists, they have captured and communicated in artistic form authentic aspects of Western life. In some of these books the wild, free life of the past is related in humorous anecdote and tragic tale, and I find it interesting to juxtapose them with books of contemporary western life with its concerns about human ecology. Somewhere in this experience the indi­ vidual parochial accounts combine into something approaching the universal. Island in the Sound. By Hazel Heckman. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1967. 284 pages, drawings by H elen Hiatt, map, $5.95.) M y Rocky M ountain Valley. By James Grafton Rogers. (Boulder: Pruett Press, Inc., 1968, xi + 262 pages, photographs, drawings, map, $7.50.) Island in the Sound reminds me of Thoreau’s Cape Cod in the skill with which it focuses attention on an isolated maritime community and reveals a simple people content with their quiet, slow-paced lives. Anderson Island in Puget Sound is the subject of this humanely penetrating ecological study, a many-faceted biography of an island and its inhabitants. Hazel Heckman with husband and family left Oklahoma in the summer of 1946 and went as “carpetbaggers”, she says, to the Northwest. She was ill prepared for what she found there. As a fourth-grader in Kansas she had memorized the definitions of a bay, peninsula, and island; but it was not till she experienced the Pacific Northwest that she could know how inadequate is such theoretical knowledge. Going first as visitors to Anderson Island, the Heckmans became fasci­ nated with its idyllic charm and finally bought an old house there. The natural and human environment overwhelmed them. The love they felt for the place and the people found a warm response from the natives and oldtimers , It is because she was so completely accepted by the Islanders that Reviews 263 Mrs. Heckman has been able to produce such a rich and true book—full of anecdotes and character sketches revealing indiosyncrasies and generous human warmth. This is a book many readers will go back to for repeated delights and insights; for, while it charms us with the lives of the Islanders, it tells us much we have been overlooking about ourselves— about the human condition in a world of accelerating complexity and distraction. James Grafton Rogers is a distinguished Coloradoan whose achievements have made him widely respected at home and abroad; yet this latest of his several books is a parochial work— in the good sense of the word—a quiet portrayal of his enjoyment of nature in his home valley and legends from its past. The subject of this varied collection of brief notes and longer essays is Georgetown, Colorado, at the mouth of Clear Creek Valley in the front range of the Rockies a few miles West of Denver and Clear Creek itself, which rises in snowbanks and springs on the summits of the Continental Divide two miles above sea level and cascades fifty miles down to the plains. In this valley, he says, “. . . took place a great part of the drama of the Gold Rush of 1859 and so of the history of Colorado”. T he historical and anecdotal sketches richly develop this phase of the book. Though Mr. Rogers presents some stirring accounts of his valley’s wild and colorful past, it is in his response to the beauty and mystery of all forms of life in the valley itself that he obviously finds his greatest satisfaction. Seldom have I seen a book that gives such ample evidence of the delight the amateur naturalist can get who comes to know nature by directly observing its processes through the years. The book is structured loosely in the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 262-265
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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