From Publishers Weekly
A perceptive and engaging observer, Duncan ( Out West: An American Journey ) set out in 1990 aboard the GMC Suburban truck he dubbed the Conestoga to describe life in several vast, underpopulated Western counties "where a land-hungry nation nibbled but lost its normal appetite." Duncan is no questing William Least Heat Moon or quirky Ian Frazier, but he ably melds history and reportage: as in the past, the schoolteacher and the rancher are the frontier couple. Although most frontier dwellers approach a cowboy stereotype, Duncan meets New Agers in Colorado's Saguache County; he notes a parallel to the days of the old frontier, when land was also marketed to people on the basis of dreams. Yet he also finds modernity, "the first commuters' gold rush," in Nevada, and regularly tracks the "irreducible minimum"--establishments a county can't function without--citing hairdressers and video rental stores. He concludes with a reasoned rebuke to the academics who argue that economic, climatic and social distress will depopulate these regions. "They have overlooked the irreducible minimum," he argues, claiming that sparsely settled places may undergo difficult adjustments but will persist.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.