Like with many American major cities, Chicago has seen it’s fair share of academic studies revolve around the windy city. Despite this point, there is an ineffable quality to William Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West surpasses that other authors had penned.
Further, while there is a perceived expectation for the author to place a great emphasis on Chicago, Cronon does travel the same well-trodden academic paths his fellow historians took.
The Connecticut born historian did not specifically focus solely on the city itself, or the so-called Great West hinterland as individual geographical locations, but on their historical commonalities.
In the space of 369-pages, Cronon manages to articulate his point of view concisely. Nothing ever exists in a complete uninfringeable bubble. This, as Cronon correctly observes, is equally true of both Chicago and the Great West hinterland. Neither the city or the countryside escaped uninfluenced by the existence of the other.
Even though many western and urban historians tend to favour singular narratives in the publications they offer their respective readerships, there is a singleness of purpose to Nature’s Metropolis. In presenting his reading audience with a clearly defined environmental perspective, Cronon’s insight on the subject matter discussed is boldly refreshing.