Russell Rowland

Fifty-Six Counties


Everything about Montana is big: its proverbial sky, its mountains, its wide open spaces. And yet, Russell Rowland has managed to capture all that grand landscape–and the people who inhabit it–into the intimacy of a single book. Fifty-Six Counties is a remarkable book: a macro-focused narrative using a wide-angle lens. If you have room for only one book about Montana on your shelf, make it this one.

— David Abrams, author of Fobbit, webmeister of The Quivering Pen



Montana has a long and celebrated tradition of artful, reflective nonfiction. From Joseph Kinsey Howard’s Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome to K. Ross Toole’s Montana: An Uncommon Land, we’ve been gifted with a series of erudite and sharp-eyed guides to help show us who we are. To this eminent list we can now add Russell Rowland’s Fifty-Six Counties: A Montana Journey.

 A native Montanan and an acclaimed novelist (In Open Spaces, High and Inside), Rowland spent the better part of two years studying and traveling around his beloved home state, from the mines of Butte to the pine forests of the Northwest, from the stark, wind-scrubbed badlands of the East to the tourist-driven economies of the mountain West. Along the way, he considered our state’s essential character, where we came from and, most of all, what we might be in the process of becoming.

I am happy to offer you a sneak peek of Fifty-Six Counties, which is not due out until April. But this free sneak peek includes two excerpts from the book as well as an interview about how the book came about. Enjoy!