Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1998


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 8, No.1, 1998. Copyright © 1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


I wish I could recommend this book as a "must read" for anyone interested in the history and development of the Great Plains region; however, I cannot. For one thing, the Great Plains per se are rarely discussed in it, and the subject is certainly not a topic of universal interest. I can recommend the book, however, as a highly readable and well-documented study of the change in our perceptions of the wetlands of the Midwest over time. Hugh Prince has done a magnificent job of gathering a great deal of scattered information and using it to illustrate his idea that our perceptions of wetlands figure significantly in how we dispose of them on an environmental basis.

In Chapter 1, Prince fixes his focus on the seven state region of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, pointing out how the term "Middle West" was first applied to the High Plains area of Nebraska and Kansas, but expropriated by residents in the upper Mississippi River basin in hopes of identifying "with the good image gained by Kansas and Nebraska." Current usage places the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and easternmost Colorado and Wyoming in the "Great Plains" or "High Plains," and thus most of Prince's book focuses on the wetlands of the real "Midwest."