al affairs. More and more he criticizedrnthe get-rich-quick hucksters who guidernso much of the West’s economy and politics,rnthe Sagebrush Rebelhon speculatorsrnwho profit from the land’s destruction.rnWallace Stegner’s passing made thernfront pages of papers on the coasts, therninner or back pages of papers in thernWestern states he had long fought to describernand protect. Less ephemerally, itrnhas also yielded a number of books, foremostrnamong them Jackson Benson’s lifernof Stegner: a hurried, somewhat too reverentialrnbook that will disappoint studentsrnof Stegner the conservationist andrnregional chauvinist. For this, we mustrnturn to Mary Stegner’s gathering of celebratoryrnessays The Geography of Hope,rnwhich, although a Festschrift, has its merits.rnBenson, however, himself a professorrnof literature, has much to say about therncontent of Stegner’s books, so that his biographyrnserves well as an on-the-fly compendiumrnof literary criticism. He is especiallyrnhelpful in discussing Stegner’srnconstant preoccupation with the developmentrnof personal identity, as well asrnhis concern for creating unusual, tightlyrnwoven narrative structures.rnCharles Rankin’s collection WallacernStegner: Man and Writer, growing from arnsymposium at the University of Montana,rnis more useful. The strongest ofrnthe essays deal with Stegner’s work onrnmany fronts, as conservationist and oldschool,rnsocially conservative political activist;rnas historian, as freelance writer,rnand as teacher. Richard Etulain, who hasrndone much good work as a chronicler ofrnWestern literary history, captures Stegnerrnin reflective moments, in one ofrnwhich his subject wearily assesses therncurse of an active imagination and arnseemingly limitless capacity for work.rn(“It’s like a beaver’s teeth—he has tornchew or else his jaws lock shut,” Stegnerrntells Etulain. “A talent is a kind of imprisonment.rnYou’re stuck in it: you havernto keep using it, or else you get ruined byrnit.”) Considering whether Stegner’s fictionrnhas had much influence on hisrnyounger contemporaries—as, for whateverrnreason, it seems not to have—^WilliamrnBevis asserts that Stegner’s literaryrnstyle, forever locked in conventionalrnmagazine formulae of the 1930’s andrn40’s, failed to develop over time, notrnleast because Stegner mistrusted literaryrnexperimentation.rnAll three books have their considerablernuses, but they leave room for anotherrncombining their virtues, one thatrnwould fully account for Stegner’s placernin modern Western literature, thatrnwould examine where Stegner got itrnright and where he got it wrong, thatrnwould travel the ground to see up closernthe landscapes that shaped Stegner’srncharacter. Until we have that book werncan content ourselves with returning tornStegner’s own writings, which offer a humanernand hopeful vision that defies thernregion’s continuing transformation intornjust another hopelessly used-up place.rnGregory McNamee’s most recent book isrnA Desert Bestiary, published by JohnsonrnBooks in Boulder, Golorado.rnCircles of Hellrnby C. John McCloskeylllrnThe Hand of God: A Journey FromrnDeath to Life by the Abortion DoctorrnWho Changed His Mindrnby Bernard NathansonrnWashington: Regnery Publishing;rn206 pp., $24.95rnDr. Bernard Nathanson has writtenrnan important book that in timernwill rank with Merton’s Seven StoreyrnMountain and Malcolm Muggeridge’srnChronicles of Wasted Time as booksrnwhich our descendants, familial and spiritual,rnwill examine closely in the 21st andrn22nd centuries in order to understandrnboth man’s inhumanity to humanity andrnto his personal self.rnWhile the book has historical significance,rnit also possesses importance in thernpresent moment. Bernard Nathanson’srnintellectual and moral honesty has enabledrnmany other abortion providers orrnaccomplices, including recently somernlegislators, to acknowledge their mistakesrnand join the fight for human life at itsrnmost defenseless. Nowhere more cleadyrnthan in the United States can one see therndivisions lining up behind the forces ofrnthe “culture of death” and a “civilizationrnof love.” Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s conversionsrnboth to the cause of life and tornChristianity (he was received into thernRoman Catholic Church by John CardinalrnO’Connor on the Feast of the ImmaculaternConception in 1996) are indeedrnhighly significant as witness both tornthe power of scientific evidence and ofrnprayer. It also manifests cleady the inexorablernconnection between God and thernnatural law that He has inscribed in humanrnnature.rnThe basic facts about Dr. Nathansonrnare well known to many readers. He wasrncofounder in 1969 of the National Associationrnfor the Repeal of Abortion Lawsrn(NARAL, later renamed the NationalrnAbortion Rights Action League) and formerrndirector of New York City’s Centerrnfor Reproductive and Sexual Health,rnthen the largest abortion clinic in thernworld. In the late I970’s, he turnedrnagainst abortion to become a prominentrnpro-life advocate, authoring AbortingrnAmerica and producing the seminal prolifernvideo The Silent Scream. This videornwas truly revolutionary in its use of thernmost up-to-date medical technology torndepict the horrors of abortion as it actuallyrntakes place in the womb of thernmother. Along with its successor ThernEclipse of Reason, it was widely shownrnnot only on television globally, but directlyrnto legislators in many countries.rnDuring the late I970’s, Dr. Nathansonrnbecame for the cultural anti-life forces inrnAmerica an object of ridicule and satirernin comic strips and news commentary,rnand the butt of jokes of television comedians.rnSince then, in addition to his distinguishedrnobstetric medical practicernand university teaching, he has givenrnhundreds of lectures throughout thernworld in defense of the unborn. Now onrnthe verge of retirement, he has writtenrnhis autobiography, which contains searingrnpersonal revelations concerning howrna medical doctor could become an abortionist,rnand also remain open to the possibilitiesrnof divine grace.rnThe first chapter clearly describes thernyoung Nathanson’s relationship with hisrnfather, a Jewish Canadian physician, andrnhis family: “We would take long walks together,rnhe and I, and he would fill myrnears with poisonous remarks and revanchistrnresolutions concerning my motherrnand her family and . . . I remained hisrnweapon, his dummy, until I was almostrnseventeen years old, when I-as-he rebelledrnand told him I would no longerrnfunction as his robotic surrogate assassin.”rnOf his sister he writes, “Her mentalrnhealth destroyed, her physical health intactrnbut—to her befuddled mind—suspect,rnher children rebellious, fallen inrnwith bad company and truant, my sisterrnkilled herself one sunny August morningrnMARCH 1997/29rnrnrn