Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2004


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 14, No. 2, 2004. Copyright © 2004 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Brosnan offers a remarkably well-researched and well-written analysis of the Colorado Front Range urban ecology, focusing on Denver (the financial and commercial capital), Colorado Springs (the tourist town), and Pueblo (the factory town). Denver's business leaders receive the bulk of the attention here, but their efforts to promote a diverse regional industrial hinterland lead the reader through the mining, farming, and grazing regions of nineteenth-century Colorado. The narrative does not follow localities so much as problems and possibilities, beginning with the problem of extinguishing Native American claims (chapter 2) and establishing irrigated agriculture (chapter 3). The histories of Colorado Springs (chapter 4) and Pueblo (chapter 5) are cast within the context of their ecological niches (or industrial bases), indicating that their success was rooted in their specialization and subservience to Denver. In this vein the stage is set for the major analytical chapters, which explain the environmental devastation wreaked in the foolish effort to dominate nature (chapter 6) and the inevitable triumph of national and international capital in dominating even the Denver crowd (chapter 7).