Forty-some-odd years after the advent of New Western History, volume editor Brenden W. Rensink suggests it is time to refocus scholarly attention on the “Modern West.” He asserts that “the twenty-first-century West straddles multiple modern frontiers, not the least of which is the temporal frontier between our unsettled past and uncertain future” (xxxi). The thirteen chapters in this multidisciplinary work—most resulting from a 2019 seminar at the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies—ably examine this idea. Three of them focus specifically on matters relating to agriculture.

In “Vulnerable Harvests,” historian David D. Vail explores the environmental hazards that confront agriculturists on the Great Plains in an era of “larger climactic changes” (31). While the threats of fire, drought, flood, and polluted aquifers are not new, the modern dilemma is that farmers and ranchers face “more intense versions” of such events than ever before (33). Vail argues that John Wesley Powell...

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