""There are people who think of the prairie as boring, and it is hard not to pity them."" Bergen's forthright and fetching celebration of America's grasslands sometimes feels almost as personal as it is informative, as the author, who's written numerous books (including Wild Cats and Born to Be a Cowgirl), traces the prairie from prehistory to the present. She shares her enthusiasm for her subject as easily as she shares facts about prairie ecosystems--their geography and climate, their flora and fauna, their taming by agriculture and their uncertain future. Photographs by James R. Page reveal the prairie in its vast, rolling spaces as well as in its intimate corners, where pincushion cacti bloom and red-winged blackbirds perch on cattails. Sidebars offer all sorts of additional information (on ants, droughts and skunks, just to name a few things) and maps and b&w illustrations further enliven the pages. Savage's instructive main text is lucid and thorough, making this a fantastic guide to North America's largest ecosystem.