Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research17:2 (Fall 2007). Copyright ©2007 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


The editors of this collection set out to "provide the scientific, philosophical, economic, and cultural underpinnings for an emerging movement, conservation-based agriculture." With many well-recognized contributors (e.g., Berry, Leopold, Kingsolver, Bass, Pollan), the volume should appeal to readers of both conservation biology and sustainable farming. The book uses an accessible journalistic or essayist rather than a scientific referenced style, though several selections provide clear syntheses of scientific findings (e.g., "Context Matters" by Reed Noss and 'The Role of Top Carnivores" by John Terborgh et al.). Wide variation in styles and topics tends to distract from the cohesion within sections. I recommend reading the book as a whole, without too much puzzlement over the arrangement, allowing connections to seep in as you go. Most ofthe essays have been published elsewhere, but their arrangement in this volume provides new perspectives, establishing the codependence of healthy agro- and wild ecosystems. This is a topic of critical importance in the Great Plains, and though not all chapters deal with the Plains, the principles cross ecoregional boundaries.