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In "Midwest Futures," Michigan author Christman challenges what you thought you knew about the Midwest, from the economics of railroads, Native American genocide, "racial quarantines," and whether these states are really any better positioned to ride out climate change disruption. The title refers to where the nebulous "Midwest" is headed, and also to the Chicago Board of Trade whose futures exchange serves as an example for the many "innovations" in these states that have both helped, and then gone on to harm the same people. (The small farmers who first saw their grain prices stabilized by the futures market, later went on to lose their farms to the agribusinesses that could exploit it better.) The author shows us in 36 short interlocking essays that speculators, not settlers have always controlled the Midwest's fortunes: he wants us to summon up the collective will to change that.— From Carla's Picks
A virtuoso book-length essay on Midwestern identity and the future of the region, named a Commonweal Notable Book of 2020 and a finalist for a Midwest Independent Book award.
The Midwest: Is it middle? Or is it Western? As Phil Christman writes in this idiosyncratic, celebrated book, these and other ambiguities might well be the region's defining characteristic. Deftly combining history, criticism, and memoir, Christman breaks his exploration of Midwestern identity, past and present, into a suite of thirty-six brief, interconnected essays. Ranging across material questions of religion, race, class, climate, and Midwestern myth making, the result is a sometimes sardonic, often uproarious, and consistently thought-provoking look at a misunderstood place and the people who call it home.
For anyone who has ever wondered why being from the Midwest is synonymous with normalcy, even when that's obviously not the case.