I have known of Stegner for a long time, even started An Angle of Repose, but was impatient and read no more than two or three chapters. This collection of essays was recommended to me by a friend and I was not disappointed. The direction of most of the pieces is environmental and historical, dealing with the settling of the American West (beyond the 90th Meridian). He takes the long view and puts America's expansion and our obsession with controlling nature in their proper perspective, beyond the boosterism and hoopla. His salient point emphasizes the baseline aridity of the West, and how much of it is unsuitable for human habitation. However, over the past 150 years, by building dams and other massive water projects, we have "made the desert bloom." Tragically, he points out that nature and its ways are unforgiving and that in the long run, much of the West will again become unable to support its present population density. Time will tell. His writing is pristine, concise yet descriptive, while his insights into the American character are profound.