American West and Women

$19.95 hardcover

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Hard Grass: Life on the Crazy Woman Bison Ranch

Mary Zeiss Stange

Gold Medal Winner for Best Regional Non-Fiction, 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards

Mary Zeiss Stange's story of running a bison ranch with her husband in southeastern Montana--on the outskirts of nowhere and far-from-here--is a narrative of survival in a landscape and a society at once harsh and alluring. In this series of essays she illustrates the realities of ranch life at a time when the "New West" of subdivision, "ranchettes," telecommuting, and tourism collides with the "True West" of too much, too little, too hard, and too harsh. This society is molded by the climate, and both run to extremes, simultaneously unforgiving, often brutal, yet capable of unalloyed charm and breathtaking beauty.

Her stories explore the myths and realities of ranch life in modern America--the brandings, rodeos, and demolition derbies that are major events, and the social, environmental, and political factors at work in shaping the land and the people.

Less memoir than deep history of people and place, these vivid, naturalistic tales examine the complex relationships that comprise life in the rural West today.

Check out Mary Stange's blog at


Mary Zeiss Stange is professor of women's studies and religion at Skidmore College, where for eight years she served as director of the women's studies program. Her publications include Woman the Hunter, Gun Women: Firearms and Feminism in Contemporary America, and Heart Shots: Women Write about Hunting. She is also the author of numerous articles in major magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. The Crazy Woman Bison Ranch is located near Ekalaka, Montana.


"( Hard Grass) gives readers a clear-eyed look at Montana life without romanticism or nostalgia, instead describing how one family came West and put down roots."


Great Falls Tribune

"From geology to racism and the Indian Wars, from a thoughtful look at branding as an example of unnecessary cruelty now preserved as traditional custom to her own lessons in hunting and feminism, Zeiss Stange weaves a complex and thorough portrait of the place she has come to call home."


Story Circle Book Reviews

"...breathtakingly deep, beautifully crafted..."


Feminist Collections

"Scholar, rancher, hunter, and feminist, Mary Zeiss Stange finally gives the fly-over country of the West what it's been lacking: a nuanced portrait of its people and animals from someone invested in the harsh and beautiful landscape."


Ted Kerasote, author of Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt and Out There: In the Wild in a Wired Age

6 x 9 in. 320 pages 30 halftones