Ram's Reviews > Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

Nature's Metropolis by William Cronon
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's review
Aug 03, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: Environmental historians, people who hate St. Louis
Read in January, 2003

The knock on this book, and Cronon in general, has always been that there are no people in his version of history. And it's true. Is it a lethal omission, or even a major drawback? Not really. The story of Chicago is, in an absolute sense, the story of its boosters, the charlatans, investors, and dreamers who made something of nothing. Cronon is not wrong, however, to focus instead upon the natural setting of the unnatural city; it is the only remotely plausible explanation for the rise of one piddling place above others, even the most deserving. It's a great book, as far as it goes (and what I've just described really is AS FAR as this one goes).

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