*The Lower Flathead River* is a beautiful and useful book

Flathead River, below Dixon

The Flathead River, below Dixon–shot on a return trip from Seattle. Home at last.

I quite like The Lower Flathead River and find it an easier resource to use than some others because it’s less necessary to complicate simple ideas about the past presented more as heritage than as history. The primary sources don’t always point in the same direction. They are more true to the past, in the sense that there were never simple answers to the complexities people faced. The past, like the present, is rich with opportunities and with dangers, with good people and with mischievous people, and it’s often hard to discern what one should think, or where one should head.

People approach the past with many different purposes, and most people will find their purposes supported by some parts of this book–and most will also find their purposes undermined in some ways. I think that’s a good thing. I would like lots of people whose lives intertwine in this place to read this book. I think most of them will find themselves among folk that they recognize.

The book is a bit too real to support any but the most determined ideological thinking. What I mean by “ideological thinking” is simply the act of replacing reality with a simplified theory of reality, which one holds to even when the facts don’t support it. The books to read, on that topic, are Gulag Archipelago and The Roots of American Order. I think ideological thinking is a major problem in contemporary education–since I think to a great extent schools have suffered a sort of ideological capture.

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