Tradition & Progress: Southern Idaho’s Growth Since 1990. By Stephen Hartgen. August 2019. 320 pages. Softcover. ISBN-13 978-0945648475. Price $18.95.
Tradition & Progress is a detailed look at the Southern Idaho high desert and its people. It explores the Magic Valley’s growth and how its people retain many traits from settlement times while adapting to modern challenges. It lays out the region’s special “Spirit of the Place” and the trends likely to shape the future, including individualism, diversity, faiths and politics in this irrigated, verdant region.
From the book:
Southern Idaho represents a good example of both how America was, remains and may yet continue to be. It embodies both the freshest trends in fields like agribusiness and economic development, as well as patterns of life which seem backward and traditional, perhaps even archaic.
Other parts of rural America may also seem like this. The national and sometimes local media portray rural Americans as little more than “Deliverance” folks, rednecks living in “Sticksville” or “West Buggywhip” with our backwater prejudices and ignorance.1
But a closer look shows us to be forward thinking, experimental and innovative, if overlooked. We’re both progressive and conservative, picking and choosing. We’re conservative on social values and public fiscal policies, yet forward thinking when it comes to practical applications in agriculture and research. There’s a strong strain of anti-federalism in our political and social speech, yet we’re surrounded by millions of acres of federal lands, mostly open to public use. Our love of Idaho is strong, but our love of country is stronger still and unshaken.
Stephen Hartgen described his intent this way: “my goal has been to produce a comprehensive, readable and accessible source for both casual readers and those who want more detail. My hope is to provide a reference book on what Southern Idaho is like today, and how it got that way. It is hoped that future residents and the curious will use it to help understand this dramatic time in Southern Idaho’s history.”