More than forty percent of our country was once open prairie, grassland that extended from Missouri to Montana. Taking a critical look at this little-understood biome, award-winning journalist Richard Manning urges the reclamation of this land, showing how the grass is not only our last connection to the natural world, but also a vital link to our own prehistoric roots, our history, and our culture. Framing his book with the story of the remarkable elk, whose mysterious wanderings seem to reclaim his ancestral plains, Manning traces the expansion of America into what was then viewed as the American desert and considers our attempts over the last two hundred years to control unpredictable land through plowing, grazing, and landscaping. He introduces botanists and biologists who are restoring native grasses, literally follows the first herd of buffalo restored to the wild prairie, and even visits Ted Turner's progressive--and controversial--Montana ranch. In an exploration of the grasslands that is both sweeping and intimate, Manning shows us how we can successfully inhabit this and all landscapes.