Bernard DeVoto (1897-1955) was, according to the novelist Wallace Stegner, “a fighter for public causes, for conservation of our natural resources, for freedom of the press and freedom of thought.” A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, DeVoto is best remembered for his trilogy, The Year of Decision: 1846, Across the Wide Missouri, and The Course of Empire. He also wrote a column for Harper’s Magazine, in which he fulminated about his many concerns, particularly the exploitation and destruction of the American West. This volume brings together ten of DeVoto’s acerbic and still timely essays on Western conservation issues, along with his unfinished conservationist manifesto, Western Paradox, which has never before been published. The book also includes a foreword by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who was a student of DeVoto’s at Harvard University, and a substantial introduction by Douglas Brinkley and Patricia Limerick, both of which shed light on DeVoto’s work and legacy.


Yale University Press


August 11th, 2001

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Praise for The Western Paradox:

“The joy of reading this book is not only the lucid straightforward presentation of facts. There is the style and candor of the author that is so refreshing. . . . This is a book to treat yourself to, bestow on relatives and friends at holiday time. . . . This issue of conservation couldn’t be more timely. The writing couldn’t be more vital. The bibliography is excellent.” — The Quoddy Times

“This fine volume from Yale University Press preserves DeVoto’s important written record, which is as timely today as when it was written.” — Peter H. Delafosse, Utah Historical Quarterly

“The story of DeVoto’s battle against tremendous odds is well told in these readings.  They offer encouragement for our own times in which we are witnessing an unprecedented assault upon the public domain.  The “Landgrabbers” can be licked!” — Richard A. Bartlett, Journal of the West

“This book is the fascinating record of DeVoto’s crusade to save the West from itself. . . . His arguments, insights, and passion are as relevant and urgent today as they were when he first put them on paper.” — Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., from the Foreword