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Fifty-Six Counties


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About the Author

Russell Rowland is the highly-applauded author of three novels set in Montana, including High and Inside, as well as co-editor of an anthology, West of 98: Living and Writing the New American West. He lives in Billings, Montana.


"I can't wait for others to discover this book. Thoughtful, wise, funny, sincere, and deep: those are the words that come to mind when reading this treasure. Rowland is a humble observer, but he's also willing to dig deep and bravely, offering astute reflections on the state, its resources, its peoples, its history, and its charm and its dangers. This book does not blink or turn away from the harder issues, nor does it refrain from celebrating all that deserves adoration. In a voice all his own, Rowland proves to be warm and personable, and yet cutting and real - basically, one couldn't wish for a better guide to the state of Montana. This book is utterly unique. A gorgeous accomplishment." -- Laura Pritchett "author of Stars Go Blue, winner of the High Plains Book Award and PEN USA Award"
"Russell Rowland is a whirlwind of a writer, clothed in the stark colors of Montana's mountains and sky, her high plains and her deep true rivers. His book Fifty-Six Counties: A Montana Journey is astounding in beauty and vitality, interwoven with great wisdoms about human shadow and human light, touched by divine notions of the sacredness that binds all people, and graced with a hard won and ultimately natural sense of illumination. In writing the book, Rowland says he wanted to tap 'into the spirit of Montana... to explore its heart.' The result of Rowland's exploration is something soulful, defiant, and revolutionary. He is fiercely devoted to the atonement and beauty that are the hallmarks of all great works of art. Rowland names our collective loneliness, but does so with a fierce and tender devotion to the mothers and fathers of all races, all cultures. In so doing he restores us not only to each other but to Mother Earth. His unique, person to person path through the history, present, and future of Montana is a vision both elegant and muscular, rich with the scents of forest and arid lands, violence and community, ranch life and city life, conservation and industry and ore. Fifty-Six Counties is animated by the numinous even as it humbles us, makes us more sane, and draws us into a new and invigorating experience of the essence of life. This is a book for Montana, for the nation, and for the world." -- Shann Ray "winner of the American Book Award, the High Plains Book Award, and the Spur Award, author of American Masculine, Balefire, and American Copper"
"Fifty-Six Counties, a book I read with pleasure and admiration, is a great companion for those who already love Montana and for those anxious to get a real sense of the place without the salesmanship." -- Tom McGuane "author of The Cadence of Grass and Gallatin Canyon"
"Everything about Montana is big: its proverbial sky, its mountains, its wide open spaces. And yet, Russell Rowland has managed to capture all that grand landscape - and the people who inhabit it - into the intimacy of a single book. Fifty-Six Counties is a remarkable book: a macro-focused narrative using a wide-angle lens. If you have room for only one book about Montana on your shelf, make it this one." -- David Abrams "author of Fobbit"

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