John Smith discusses his new book about the grazing rights battle between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government that resulted in a tense, armed standoff between Bundy's supporters and federal law enforcement officers. It places the Bundy conflict into the larger context of the Sagebrush Rebellion and the long struggle of the use of public lands in the American West. While examining the complex history of federal public land policies, Smith exposes both sides of this story. He shows that there are passionate true believers on opposite sides of the insurrection, along with government agents and politicians in Washington complicit in efforts to control public lands for their wealthy allies and campaign contributors. With the promise of billions of dollars in natural resource profits and vast tracts of environmentally sensitive lands hanging in the balance, the West's latest range war is the most important in the nation's history. This masterful exposé raises serious questions about the fate of America's public lands and the vehement arguments that are framing the debate from all sides.
John L. Smith is a longtime journalist and the author of more than a dozen books on some of the most significant characters in Las Vegas history. In three decades as a daily columnist with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he garnered many state and national awards for his work. In 2016, Smith was named to the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame and was part of a group of reporters to receive the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics from the University of Oregon, the Society of Professional Journalists award for Ethics, and the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism from Northwestern University.