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B o o k r e v ie w s Snipe,” the weeks critical for fawn survival begin with the noisy, aerial dis­ plays of male snipes and end during the early summer serenade of the western meadowlark. But while Byers’s language and descriptive clarity remain elevated and precise during these journeys into the non-pronghorn life and history of the refuge, the placement and dimensions of these forays lack consistency and completeness. For example, an entire chapter is devoted to the intricacies of the bison rut, while a scant few paragraphs are spent on the fascinating lifestyle of the prairie rattler. Both for its intrigue and its unfulfilled potential, one thread in this book stands out from the others. In the first chapter, Byers traces the evolutionary roots of pronghorn speed and endurance, which give the animals an unfair and—because of the sheer size of the discrepancy—largely unnecessary advan­ tage over present-day North American predators. The biological characteristics that produce this swiftness and stamina were genetically selected during a time when lightning-fast, prehistoric cheetahs and lions pursued pronghorns across the plains of North America. The fearsome predators went extinct, leaving behind a prey species adapted to ghosts. The question this observation seems to beg, one that Byers fails to explore in any real depth, is larger than the pronghorn and twofold: How many other products of animal evolution are superfluous relics, and what are the consequences of this residue? In other words—so what? Despite its structural shortcomings and lack of organic movements from the realm of observation to conceptual questioning, this book is well worth reading—if for Byers’s language alone. He illuminates the flow and tragic drama of pronghorn life in a manner that could only come from someone close to the creatures, and he captures the essence of the animal without becoming senti­ mental or anthropomorphic—no small feat. After the Boom in Tombstone and Jerome, Arizona: Decline in Western Resource Towns. By Eric L. Clements. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2003. 389 pages, $29.95. Reviewed by Robert Murray Davis, Professor Emeritus University of Oklahoma, Norman Eric L. Clements intends to examine “the nature of bust itself,” using the examples of nineteenth-century Tombstone and twentieth-century Jerome (13-14). While Clements admits that these towns are in some respects atypi­ cal—not only were they larger than many such towns, but they also managed to survive—he defends his choices because of the large body of material available for his study. Moreover, he is able to use contrasts between Tombstone and Jerome to locate differences attributable to mining technology, to social and political structures, and to attitudes toward money and mobility. W e s t e r n A m e r ic a n L it e r a t u r e S p r in g 2 0 0 5 After the Boom can be compared to Michael A. Amundson’s Yelbwcake Towns: Uranium Mining Communities in the American West (2002). Though shorter (and examining with a briefer period), Amundson’s book deals with more communities in far less detail, focusing primarily on the federal govern' ment’s Cold War policies that led directly to boom and bust. He uses a few names, but, metaphorically speaking, we do not see their faces. Only a handful of his photos contain people, all of them associated with processing. He notes the decline or disappearance of towns, but only in very general terms. Clements’s purpose and method are quite different. He shows the decline, especially forJerome, almost street by street, even building by building, citing tax rates, salaries, demographic data, numbers of saloons in Tombstone (thirty-six in 1882, nine in 1892), numbers of teachers in Jerome (sixty-seven in 1930-1931, thirty-nine in 1932-1933), and so on. He populates the towns with names and faces, merchants, professional men and women, Croats, Chinese, as well as miners and mine executives and shows how they acted during the boom and what they did to try to survive the bust. Many of his photos show the people from the period. Although Clements presents a staggering, sometimes stunning...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 111-112
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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