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Know the West

No change on the range

  When you're right, you're right, and when Philip Fradkin worked for the Los Angeles Times from 1964-1975 as that paper's first environmental reporter, and for Audubon from 1976-81 as that magazine's first Western editor, he often batted 1,000. Fradkin recalls those days in his book of collected essays, Wanderings of an Environmental Journalist: In Alaska and the American West. Fradkin, author of A River No More, foretold the disaster that occurred when the Exxon Valdez tanker dumped 11 million gallons of oil into Alaskan waters. And his interviews with angry ranchers in Nevada illuminated the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s. Fradkin is also generous, harking back to the wonderful Harper's magazine columns by Bernard DeVoto. DeVoto, an historian and close friend of Wallace Stegner, tried to alert conservationists to the ranchers' move to hand over control of public lands to the states. In epilogues, Fradkin revisits his stories, including one about the energy boom that almost burst Craig, Colo., at its seams. He finds the town now subdued and perhaps "just normal." He warns us, though, that "there certainly will be another energy crisis, and history will repeat itself."

University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, N.M.: Cloth: $24.95. 273 pages. Illustrations by Michael Taylor.