Landscapes of Conflict

The Oregon Story, 1940-2000

William G. Robbins
Foreword by William Cronon

  • Published: 2004. Paperback 2010
  • Subject Listing: History / Western History; Environmental Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 416 pp., 20 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
  • Contents

Post-World War II Oregon was a place of optimism and growth, a spectacular natural region from ocean to high desert that seemingly provided opportunity in abundance. With the passing of time, however, Oregon's citizens - rural and urban - would find themselves entangled in issues that they had little experience in resolving. The same trees that provided income to timber corporations, small mill owners, loggers, and many small towns in Oregon, also provided a dramatic landscape and a home to creatures at risk. The rivers whose harnessing created power for industries that helped sustain Oregon's growth - and were dumping grounds for municipal and industrial wastes - also provided passageways to spawning grounds for fish, domestic water sources, and recreational space for everyday Oregonians.

The story of Oregon's accommodation to these divergent interests is a divisive story between those interested in economic growth and perceived stability and citizens concerned with exercising good stewardship towards the state's natural resources and preserving the state's livability. In his second volume of Oregon's environmental history, William Robbins addresses efforts by individuals and groups within and outside the state to resolve these conflicts. Among the people who have had roles in this process, journalists and politicians Richard Neuberger and Tom McCall left substantial legacies and demonstrated the ambiguities inherent in the issues they confronted.
William G. Robbins is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History, Oregon State University. He is the author of Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800-1940, and Hard Times in Paradise: Coos Bay, Oregon, 1850-1986.

"This excellent book and its earlier companion volume define a new and important approach to America's environmental history - from a state rather than a national perspective. It is broadly conceived, well researched, engagingly told and filled with a passion for place that the reader cannot help but share."
-Donald Worcester, University of Kansas

"Landscapes of Conflict offers a comprehensive study of the complex political and environmental policies affecting Northwest water, forest and agricultural policies from 1941 to the present . Robbins' in-depth analyses are sound, his insights keen, his research impeccable."
-Craig Lesley, author of Winterkill and The Sky Fisherman

"This overview of environmental change in Oregon since 1940 is a masterful of the clearest and clear-eyed portraits of a modern state in the West that has been written."
-William Lang, Portland State University

"Landscapes of Conflict is the second volume of what is unquestionably the finest environmental history anyone has yet written for a single state - and since Oregon has helped lead the nation in its response to environmental problems, while also exemplifying those problems within its own boundaries, Robbins's book will be of interest to readers far beyond the Pacific Northwest."
-William Cronon, University of Wisconsin

Foreword: Still Searching for Eden at the End of the Oregon Trail by William Cronon
Prologue: A Time to Remember
I. Postwar Promise
1. The Great Hope for the New Order
2. Into the Brave New World
II. Making Agriculture Modern
3. Bringing Perfection to the Fields
4. The Wonder World of Pesticides
III. Industrial Forestry Management
5. Planning and Technical Efficiency in the Forests
6. Intensive Forestry and Citizen Activism
IV. Of Rivers and Land
7. Richard Neuberger's Conservation Politics
8. Tom McCall and the Struggle for the Willamette
9. Ecologies of Sprawl: The Land-Use Nexus
Epilogue: The Special Place

"This is, make no mistake about it, an important book. Oregon faces massive land-use and environmental issues, and this history of how we really got to where we are is relevant and predictive. Those who control how Oregon will go in the future need to read this book thoroughly.And that includes the people who have the most power..the voters."
-Salem Statesman Journal

"There is much to admire in [this] book: careful scholarship, brisk writing, and an obvious love and respect for Oregon's history and people. And many fascinating stories..Historians and environmentalists will be elaborating his themes, working from the borders of his achievement, for some time to come."
-The Oregonian

"[Landscapes of Conflict] is impressive, a work valuable for its sweep, relevant to many current concerns, and important for the understanding it can provide even to those with interests focused on areas far distant from Oregon."
-The Journal of American History

"Robbins brings a critical and moral clarity to his research and analysis that turns the specifics of one state's environmental conflicts into a synecdoche for broader struggles with modernity, capitalism, and ecological sustainability. He also adds significantly to a growing body of broad-minded, theoretically-informed scholarship about the Pacific Northwest, a region whose historiography has in the past tended toward either the provincially myopic or the gushingly exceptionalist. Robbins makes the case, in other words, that Oregon matters."
-H-NET BOOK REVIEW (Published by (June 2005)