In Running Out, anthropologist Lucas Bessire chronicles the culture of depletion. The book results from a personal quest to reconnect to his ancestral roots, explore his grandmother's unfinished research on the now-dry Cimarron River in Southwest Kansas, and explain a mentality that has put this corner of the plains on a course for extinction. In this portrayal of contemporary society and the lack of communal thinking in favor of individual gain, readers will find unfortunate continuities with the findings of key works on the region's history. The book is an important accounting of modern resource exploitation that scholars have established as a key legacy of white settlement on the Great Plains.

The book consists of four parts. “Lines” looks backward to the establishment of large-scale irrigated agriculture on the High Plains. Bessire's great-grandfather was responsible for breaking thirty-eight square miles of prairie and for drilling some of the first...

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