Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Desert's Past : a natural prehistory of the Great Basin by Donald K. Grayson

Sometimes you find a book by a certified expert that is actually interesting to read, despite it's academic approach. After discovering a pre-historic lithic manufacturing site while chukar hunting north of Battle Mountain, NV years ago I was drawn to learn more about the history of the people and wildlife in the area. 

Donald K Grayson is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. Grayson's The Desert's Past presents an integrated look at the physiology, biology, botany and human history of the Great Basin - one of the most interesting areas in North America - from the Pleistocene to the Donner Party.

The Great Basin is 165,000 square miles of arid country that reaches across the West from NE California, southern Oregon, SE Idaho, western Utah, and nearly all of Nevada. This is country that many drive through without seeing anything but the apparently lifeless desert along I80. A wrong impression of a unique area.

If you travel, hunt, fish, camp or explore in the Great Basin, this book is critical to gaining an well-rounded understanding of the land and everything living on it. This book is always on the top shelf of my bookcase, and I often go back to it to investigate answers to my questions, and it never disappoints me. Published 1993 by the Smithsonian Institution Press.

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