Magazine August 2, 2010, Issue

True West

From the cover of Prairie Republic (Oklahoma)
Prairie Republic: The Political Culture of Dakota Territory, 1879–1889, by Jon K. Lauck (Oklahoma, 256 pp., $32.95)

What happens when hundreds of thousands of people flush into a massive open prairie in the course of a decade, transforming a place the size of Ireland into farmland carved up into parcels about ten city blocks wide and long? One would think social discord and economic domination by a clique — and that, for a long time, has been the view of “progressive” historians on the matter.

In his enterprising new scholarly work, Jon Lauck invites us to question the stereotype of the lawless, corrupt, hang-’em-high “Wild West,” and instead paints a picture of a healthy, energetic, quintessentially Jeffersonian Prairie

Travis Kavulla is director of Energy and Environmental Policy at the R Street Institute. He is a former president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners who held elected office as a Montana public service commissioner for eight years. Before that, he was an associate editor for National Review.

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