OUR BOOKS & PRINTS
John D. Taylor Denny Burkhart Illustrations
What type of vegetation covers more of North America than any other? Those living east of the Mississippi River, would probably guess forest, yet prairie grasslands-not forests-represent North America's most significant type of vegetation, covering 15 percent of the continent, some 9.3 million square miles from western Canada south through Texas.
Culturally, biologically and historically, prairie and the creatures connected to it have shaped North America's destiny and continue to do so. What is more North America than a bison, a Lakhota warrior on a prairie hilltop? Yet prairie-real prairie-is vanishing at an alarming rate: Depending on location, between 99 and 35 percent of North America's three prairie types (tallgrass, mixed grass and short grass) are gone since 1830: More than 90 percent of the tallgrass, the "sea of grass" that reached as high as a horse's belly and spread across Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas has been destroyed. Shortgrass and mixed grass have fared somewhat better, depending on location, yet the prognosis is not good: In Manitoba, for example, 99 percent of the mixed grass is gone-in Nebraska its 75 percent, in the Dakota's nearly 70 percent, in Texas, 30 percent-and Saskatchewan has lost 86 percent of its shortgrass, Texas 80 percent, South Dakota, 35 percent.
Prairie Autumn, John D. Taylor's fourth Bonasa Press title, takes a hard look at North America's prairie past, present and future; the wildlife and people connected to this wild space. Taylor focuses on what prairie is all about, how it was created, and why it is significant in the North American landscape, its influence on our lives. The prairie's past-specifically what was here prior to European contact-and what remains is an important focus, along with the prairie's abundant life, which rivaled, perhaps exceeded, Africa's Serengeti grasslands. Always of special interest are the prairie's birds; particularly those best explored with a brace of DeCoverly Kennels English setters, and a side-by-side-sharptails, prairie chickens, sage grouse, Hungarian partridge, pheasants and quail.
Prairie Autumn examines why the prairie attracts some people, repels others; it considers the spiritual nature of this vast wild space, and how it influences the human psyche. Taylor compares this book to two previous efforts, Gunning the Eastern Uplands and The Wild Ones, only this time the topic is prairie. Taylor has been roaming the prairies across the course of a lifetime-including a focused effort last fall in the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas-gathering stories, in preparation for this book. Denny Burkhart will again team with Taylor to provide the illustrations for this book.
Prairie Autumn looks to be another fascinating read from this award-winning author. The book is scheduled for a Winter 2006 publication date. Pre-publication orders will receive a 15 percent discount. A $65 limited edition and a $35 trade edition will be available.