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Nature's Metropolis

Chicago and the Great West
Narrated by: Jonah Cummings
Length: 18 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (80 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Awarded the 1992 Bancroft Prize and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award for Best Nonfiction Book of 1991.

In this groundbreaking work, William Cronon gives us an environmental perspective on the history of nineteenth-century America. By exploring the ecological and economic changes that made Chicago America's most dynamic city and the Great West its hinterland, Mr. Cronon opens a new window onto our national past. This is the story of city and country becoming ever more tightly bound in a system so powerful that it reshaped the American landscape and transformed American culture. The world that emerged is our own.

©1992 William Cronon (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • JB
  • Nebraska
  • 02-09-18

Moving

As we approach the 30 year anniversary of Cronon’s masterpiece I can only ponder how little has changed since 1991. Thousands of Chicagos repeated across the planet as Greed marches unmercifully along.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Incredibly dull

I was not impressed or intrigued by this book. The story focuses more on Chicago than any part of the West. It’s also very narrow insofar as timeline, sticking between just a few decades. There is no progression into how the seeds of the city played out in future decades and generations.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Low information density

I learned some interesting things about Chicago, but I didn't think there was a clear structure and I thought it took the author a lot of words to say not that much.

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Good book, dire narrator

This classic, important book of environmental history is excellent and rewarding every time I read it, and doesn't suffer as an audiobook for lack of illustrations. The book reads very well even without seeing the charts. The complex accounting of the development of Chicago and its hinterland makes for a very engaging listen.

However, this particular reader strongly detracts from the text. Words are frequently mispronounced (if I hear potah-wah-tomeee one more time..) making obvious and distracting breaks from believing our narrator knows what he's talking about. An attempt at adding character has him putting on very poor and distracting accents when reading quotations. I also particularly did not enjoy the cadence of the reading, though I understand that is subjective.

Lovely book, I strongly suggest people read it in their lives, but maybe let Professor Cronon's own voice read in your own mind rather than get the audiobook.