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The tragedy of the hold Hoover’s rugged individualism continues to have on the American psyche in our increasingly atomized age is that his formulation risks presenting a false dichotomy between state control over an increasingly large swath of our lives on the one hand and society as comprised of individual and independent actors on the other.
McMurtry couldn’t quite set the Bowie knife to the scalp of the Western like Cormac McCarthy did the same year, maybe because he knew those people weren’t grotesque caricatures; they were people he’d known and loved. And when he died last week, he was probably the last person in Archer City who had any connection to those people at all.
Fidelity to place needn’t (and shouldn’t) result in stuckness, a condemnation of ever moving at all. But we must beware falling into that second trap: rejecting roots altogether.
At the heart of Gracy Olmstead's book is the conviction that roots do not just serve the individual person or plant—they also are vital to the health of one’s soil, place, and neighbors.