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The Promise of the Grand Canyon: John Wesley Powell’s Perilous Journey and His Vision for the American West by John F. Ross

Read by Stephan Rudnicki, with the recording produced by Penguin Audio

Reviewed by Ryan Paul Winn

John F. Ross has crafted a biography of John Wesley Powell for climate change-weary times, chronicling the Civil War amputee’s transition from academic adventurer to a Reconstruction-Era Jeremiah warning of unchecked expansion. Ross highlights Powell’s admonitions against irrigating the arid southwest. Reader Stephan Rudnicki’s eccentric emphasis complements Ross’s text, his pace ebbing and flowing like the literal and political currents that Powell rode.


Ryan Paul Winn is a columnist and media critic who’s rarely without an audiobook or his earbuds. When not writing or teaching in the Liberal Studies department at College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin, he can be found researching overlooked history in local and national archives.