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SAGEBRUSH EMPIRE: How a Remote Utah County Became the Battlefront of American Public Lands

by Jonathan P. Thompson

San Juan County, Utah, contains some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, rich in culture and history. But it’s also long been plagued with racism, bitterness, and politics as twisted as the canyons. Award-winning journalist Jonathan P. Thompson explores the redrock canyons and  this corner of the western United States, which for five decades has been at the center of the American public lands wars.

August 2021| Nonfiction | 978-1-948814-44-7 | 364 pp$19.95



"Equal parts piercing investigative journalism and exquisite narrative, Sagebrush Empire delivers brilliant insight into the conflicting identity of the changing American West."
 EVAN SCHERTZ, Co-owner of Maria's Bookshop, Durango CO

“This book is as gritty as the Southwest itself. Readers will get a glimpse behind the glamour of redrock country, behind the vistas that take your breath away, and learn about the ongoing conflicts between the people who make this area their home. Thompson pulls you into a story that exposes some hard truths about the locals, politicians, and land laws of the West. In narrative style, with well-researched facts, this book reveals the depths to which people will go to protect the things they hold important.”
AMY MCCLELLAND, Bright Side Bookshop, Flagstaff AZ

“A highly readable account of the origins of the ‘Sagebrush Rebellion’ and its connections to the ongoing battle over Bears Ears National Monument as well as the Native American-led push for voting rights in the area...It’s Thompson's ability to capture some of that diversity that makes Sagebrush Empire a must-read for anyone who shares his love of the land and his fascination with San Juan County’s storied history.”




“Thompson’s investigative chops are impressive."


“Thompson weaves his skills of investigative journalism and factual verification with the empowering tools and devices of a novelist.”



JONATHAN P. THOMPSON has been an environmental journalist focusing on the American West since he signed on as reporter and photographer at the Silverton Standard & the Miner newspaper in 1996. He has worked and written for High Country News for over a decade, and his work has appeared in numerous other outlets. He is the author of River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed behind the Gold King Mine Disaster. He and his wife, Wendy, and daughters Lydia and Elena split their time between Colorado and Bulgaria. 

Author Website

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