The Great Plains is shaped by the people who live in the region and the impacts they make. Those people are the subjects of three new books that the Center for Great Plains Studies will launch as part of the 2018 Nebraska Book Festival by the Nebraska Center for the Book.
On Aug. 24, the launch of “Great Plains Literature” by Linda Ray Pratt and “Great Plains Politics” by Peter J. Longo will kick off the festival. Both are the most recent titles in the Discover the Great Plains book series from the center and the University of Nebraska Press. Pratt and Longo will each give a short talk about their book from 5 to 7 p.m. at the center, 1155 Q St.
In “Great Plains Literature,” Pratt provides engaging, insightful commentary about the influential literature of the region. She discusses “Black Elk Speaks” and the destruction of Indian culture; “Giants in the Earth” and the attempts of settlers to conquer the land; Cather; the Dust Bowl writers; and Mari Sandoz, Kent Haruf, Ted Kooser and others who help readers understand regional culture and the forces that still shape the modern world of environmental threat, ethnic and racial hostilities, declining rural communities, and growing urban populations.
In “Great Plains Politics,” Longo provides a lively and novel perspective on the region’s political life. He shows how its leading citizens from both parties, seemingly so divided, have often pursued as a central political task the common goal of building strong communities. He explores leaders as diverse as Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee, Sens. Bob Dole and George McGovern, and Liz Byrd, the first black female legislator in Wyoming.
The Nebraska Book Festival continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Nebraska Union.
The festival wraps up from 2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 26 at the center with the launch of a new book by Walter Echo-Hawk, “The Sea of Grass: A Family Tale from the American Heartland” (Fulcrum Publishing). Echo-Hawk spent time as a visiting scholar at the center while researching this historical novel, which is inspired by and tells the story of several generations of Echo-Hawks. He provides a Pawnee perspective on the history of his people and the entire region. Echo-Hawk will give a talk and sign books during the event.
All three books will be available for purchase and signing during the events.