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84 Western American Literature approach, but the portrait of the region that emerges is very different from the more complex literary picture developed over time. Shortridge describes the industrialized eastern area as in a kind of limbo, geographically a part of the “Middle West,” but conceptually something else, while the Great Plains is perceptually the region’s core, but Iowa matches the region’s “defining cultural traits.” Still, Shortridge insists that there is a Middle West, and that the Great Plains is a geographical sub-set of this region. Despite these shortcomings, both of these volumes are valuable additions to regional studies. DIANE DUFVA QUANTIG Wichita State University Yosemite, The Embattled Wilderness. By Alfred Runte. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. 271 pages, $24.95.) Yosemite, The Embattled Wilderness is a clearly written, cogently argued Protestant version of Yosemite’s political and environmental history. Runte posits an original Wilderness and narrates its Fall into City by virtue of a con­ sistent preference, exhibited by those whose responsibility it is to govern the Park, for use over resource. According to him, Yosemite has had its Elijahs prophesying preservation and its Ahabs worshipping the alien god of Mammon. The former are mostly scientists, foremost among whom is Joseph Grinnell, and the latter concessionaire-capitalists, with David Curry playing the role of the Anti-Christ. Runte has three basic theses to tape on the door of the Ahwahnee Hotel. (1) Yosemite concessionaires have always gotten what they want, if not imme­ diately then eventually. They accomplish this goal by sheer dogged persistence. (2) The National Park Service has rarely, if ever, provided leadership in gov­ erning the Valley. Leadership has always come from visionaries on the outside, usually from informed scientists who have patiently worked to deconstruct the inadequate assumptions of Park Superintendents. (3) The major goal of both Park Service and concessionaires like the Yosemite Park and Curry Company has been to increase visitation. As a result, of the two purposes legislated for Yosemite, preservation and recreation, the latter has always won out in a direct confrontation. Runte gives an abundance of evidence to support these claims and is, in my opinion, mostly convincing in his argument. Runte believes that preservation is the only proper principle for the goverance of the Park and that the time has come for strict adherence to that principle. His admonitions to readers are also guided by a Protestant ethic. The book is filled with calls for renunciation, denial, and self-restraint. He calls for purity of purpose in human use of Yosemite. By this he means that people should engage, while within the Park boundaries, only in those activities appropriate to an incomparable natural place. Accordingly, he denounces the sale of alcohol, rafting, skiing, golfing, and the like. Reviews 85 Runte is at his best in his discussions of the roles that scientists such as Joseph Grinnell and George Wright have played in Park history. He is at his worst when he too neatly separates actors in the Yosemite drama into saints and sinners and when he oversimplifies the complexity of human motivation. Heroes like Frederick Law Olmsted or Joseph Grinnell can hardly do wrong, while concessionaires David Curry, Donald Tresidder, and Edward Hardy are veritable Judases, betraying the high ideal of preservation for many pieces of silver. People who seek to make a profit are not necessarily crass or ignoble. Moreover, Runte is more than ready to excuse Olmsted or Grinnell when they falter, whereas when Tresidder makes a statement supportive of the goal of preservation, Runte claims that he is only cloaking his true intentions. In summary, this is a powerful and important book, a critical contribution to Yosemite historiography and ideology at a time when the politicizing of the National Park Service and the vast hordes of visitors pose genuine threats not only to the natural environment of Yosemite but to human emotional and spiritual engagement with those great beings, El Capitan, Sugar Pine, Bear, and Coyote. DAVID ROBERTSON University of California, Davis Day’s Work. By David Lee. (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1990. 130 pages, $10.00.) In the tradition of his earlier books Driving and Drinking and The Porcine...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 84-85
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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