PositiveCleveland Review of Books\"
Hamby begins Soul Full of Coal Dust by \'marveling\' at the industrial sites and the “compelling” people. But what redeems him from the most common pitfalls and mistakes is his persistence ... Amid the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no way to read Hamby’s book without recognizing its damning assessment of the American proclivity to put economic profit over human health and wellbeing ... But on top of it all, this book is a meditation on human resilience ... there’s much to learn from these people and communities—wisdom to gain and solidarity to build. \
PositiveThe Chicago Review of BooksThe truth is, Abbey wrote of the white man’s West, and when Ketcham treats the public lands as a playground where \'a man is so free\' and can \'sling an arrow, climb a tree, build a hut out of sticks, roam like the aboriginal tribes of the continent…\' he effectively repeats those shortcomings. Public lands have always provided a playground for white men, and the creators of these domains, like John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt, actually sought as much. What’s missing in Ketcham’s story, then, are the tales of dispossession and expulsion of Native peoples, and the conservationist fears about \'vanishing\' races that first premised the creation of the public lands in the first place ... Ketcham’s searing, sharp prose, though, still makes This Land one of the best exposes on the public lands in recent memory. Now and in the future, the public needs more books like this one, in part because the federal domain harbors more than just livestock — it contains some of the largest fossil fuels reserves in the world. Ketcham’s focus on big-time ranchers and Wildlife Services misses the opportunity to make the connection between the public lands and the climate crisis, but several candidates in the Democratic primaries, at least, are promising to issue moratoriums on fossil-fuel extraction. This is crucial, because the scandal and corruption in the public lands has been sustained over the years by liberal apathy on \'western\' issues.