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Bridging the Distance: Common Issues of the Rural West

Bridging the Distance: Common Issues of the Rural West
October 2015
David M. Kennedy
David B. Danbom, Editor
University of Utah Press

The University of Utah Press has published Bridging the Distance, a book by the Rural West Initiative of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. Edited by the distinguished historian David B. Danbom and with a foreword by Center co-founding director David M. Kennedy, the book explores the Rural West across four dimensions: Community, Land, Economics – and defining the Rural West itself. The book is the result of work presented at the first Conference on the Rural West, which took place in Ogden, Utah, in October 2012.

As David Kennedy points out in his foreword, the West was once seen as a beacon of opportunity, and it is still a place where many ways of life can flourish. But it is also a region that leaves some people isolated both culturally and geographically. The essays collected here, the results of a 2012 conference, consider the problems and prospects of the rural West and its residents.

The issues are considered in four sections—Defining the Rural West, Community, Economy, and Land Use—each with an introduction by editor David Danbom. They highlight factors that set the region apart from the rest of the country and provide varied perspectives on challenges faced by those living in often remote areas, including the shortcomings of rural health care, disagreements about the use of natural resources, conflicts over water, and cultural divides within communities.

Fresh, informative, and insightful examinations of the complex problems facing the rural West, these essays will spur conversations and the search for solutions.


The Rural West Conference and the publication of Bridging the Distance have been generously supported through the Spencer F. & Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation.

The book is available from the University of Utah Press and through various online retailers.

About the Editor

David B. Danbom is the Fargo Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Dakota State University, where he taught for 36 years. He has authored six books, most recently Born in the Country: A History of Rural America and Sod Busting: How Families Made Farms on the 19th-Century Plains.


Praise and Reviews

“These essays are pertinent, offering valuable perspectives and insights.”
—William D. Rowley, author of Reclaiming the Arid West: The Career of Francis G. Newlands

“This book represents current thinking across a variety of disciplines regarding the rural West. It is up-to-date and offers a fresh look at current challenges facing the region.”
—Brian Q. Cannon, co-editor of Immigrants in the Far West and co-author of The Awkward State of Utah: Coming of Age in the Nation, 1896–1945 (both University of Utah Press)

Ordering Information

Table of Contents

David M. Kennedy
David B. Danbom
Defining the Rural West
  • Finding the Rural West, Jon K. Lauck
  • Conquering Distance? Broadband and the Rural West, Geoff McGhee
  • Too Close for Comfort: When Big Stories Hit Small Towns, Judy Muller
  • On Water and Wolves: Toward an Integrative Political Ecology of the “New” West, J. Dwight Hines
  • Irrigation Communities, Political Cultures, and the Public in the Age of Depletion,Burke W. Griggs
  • Health Disparities Among Latino Immigrants Living in the Rural West, Marc Schenker
The Rural Western Economy
  • Energy Development: Opportunities and Challenges in the Rural West, Mark N. Haggerty and Julia H. Haggerty
  • The New Natural Resource Economy: A Framework for Rural Community Resilience,Michael Hibbard and Susan Lurie
Land Use in the Rural West
  • The Angry West: Understanding the Sagebrush Rebellion in Rural Nevada, Leisl Carr Childers
  • Skull Valley Goshutes and the Politics of Place, Identity, and Sovereignty in Rural Utah, David Rich Lewis

Read More at the Rural West Initiative Website