Tolstoy suggested that words are weapons in any fight to change the minds of the masses. Words can also move the heart and draw our attention to the forgotten sublime. Julene Bair’s new book, THE OGALLALA ROAD: A MEMOIR OF LOVE AND RECKONING, proves this truth. Her first book, One Degree West, which won regional awards and was a finalist for the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, began her inquiry into how we are shaped by our childhood landscape. Ogallala Road continues her personal story and reveals some larger truths about ecological degradation unfolding across the nation.
In her new book, Bair writes beautifully and compellingly about her passion for the high plains of Kansas, her concerns about our diminishing water resources, and her search for love and identity. Although she no longer lives on the family farm, each trip back she sees the alarming effects of big agriculture and individual greed—government subsidies and ethanol policies that encourage irrigation of crops such as soybeans and corn and, in the process, are depleting a precious, essential aquifer. [...]