Prairie Republic

Jon Lauck is a historian and a senior adviser to Senator John Thune. His new book, Prairie Republic, is a history of the formation of his home state and mine, South Dakota. It is an excellent book, and remarkable in that it is a success story. One might think that historians would want to study success so that it can be replicated, but, for various reasons, they tend to be drawn to tales of disaster: violence, racism, oppression, and tiresome race/class/gender cliches.
South Dakota’s story is notably devoid of such conventional plot lines. On the contrary, Lauck finds the keys to the remarkable development of civic culture in prairie communities in the civic republicanism that Dakota Territory’s mostly-midwestern settlers brought with them, and in the pervasive influence of Christianity.
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Tomorrow at 11:15 central time, Brian Ward and I will have Jon in our studio for a conversation about his book–and, possibly, about the Presidential prospects of Jon’s friend John Thune, whose popularity in South Dakota is such that he is running for re-election this year unopposed, six years after he unseated then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in an epic matchup. It will be a fun interview; you can listen online by going to the Patriot’s web site.

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