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Contact: Emma Mohney


Now in paperback


A Story of Love, Family, and the Fight to Keep the Great Plains from Running Dry

By Julene Bair

“A story of land, water, relationships, and love . . . [Bair’s] mournful tale is told with resignation, honesty, and heartbreak, but also with strength and joy. . . . This is a book by a tough, restless, energetic, admirable, principled Kansan who also happens to be a fine writer. Her voice is a welcome one.” —Mark Bittman, The New York Times Book Review

“Powerfully captures the stubborn beauty and dignity of a farm family on the Western High Plains—the open, rolling landscape that has defined Bair’s life. . . . THE OGALLALA ROAD weaves two equally absorbing love stories into a complex tale that is both personal and political.” Chicago Tribune

“Bair’s way with words is beautifully descriptive and one senses a deep connection to the land. THE OGALLALA ROAD is a wonderful mix of reminiscing one’s personal journey and history back to their roots, so to speak, concern for man’s impact and depleting of the land’s limited natural resources, and a poignant, sweet little love story with a bona-fide cowboy. . . . Julene Bair shares her heart and will touch yours with this powerful book.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Bair’s voice is fierce, passionate, and determined. . . . Readers of environmental literature will hear echoes of Terry Tempest Williams, Rick Bass, Wallace Stegner, and Rachel Carson. Yet she doesn’t lean too heavily on her literary forebears. She has written her own tale and coupled it with a story of water that concerns us all.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

In THE OGALLALA ROAD: A Story of Love, Family, and the Fight to Keep the Great Plains from Running Dry (Penguin Books; August 4, 2015; 978-0-14-312707-9; $17.00), Julene Bair returns home from San Francisco as a recent heir to her family’s farming empire in Kansas. But she doesn’t feel truly at home until she meets Ward, a rancher from beautiful Smoky Valley. With Ward, she plans to give her son the father he’s always wished for and put down roots in the land she knows best. She also intends to preserve the Bair family farm for the next generation, keeping in mind her father’s commandment: “Hang on to your land!”

Yet Julene is acutely aware that she’s also inherited the environmental harms caused by the farm, especially her family’s role in the rapid depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, the sole source of water for the vast western plains. In one growing season alone her family—like other irrigators in the area—pumps more than two-hundred million gallons out of the aquifer. As traditional ways of life collide with industrial realities, Julene must struggle to reconcile her love for her family’s land with the limits of the land itself.

Ultimately, Julene Bair’s memoir makes for a fierce, tender love letter to the Great Plains region and its resourceful people. Selected as a Readers’ Prize Pick in Elle and a Booklist Editors’ Choice title, shortlisted for the Reading the West Book Award, and winner of Colorado Author’s League Award, THE OGALLALA ROAD is a uniquely American saga, a page-turning story of love, farm, and family in our changing times.

About the Author

JULENE BAIR is the author of the essay collection One Degree West: Reflections of a Plainsdaughter, winner of the WILLA Literary Award sponsored by Women Writing the West. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and several anthologies, including Home Land, The Great North American Prairie, and Between Mothers and Sons. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, she has taught at the University of Wyoming and the University of Iowa. For more information, please visit:

By Julene Bair
On Sale: August 4, 2015; ISBN
: 978-0-14-312707-9; $17.00

Also available as an ebook.

For more information, please contact Emma Mohney at or 212-366-2274