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Alike in dignity: Bill Vaughn’s ‘The Last Heir’ and the history of Montana’s heartland

The Last Heir (Bison Books)
‘The Last Heir’ (Bison Books).

This week on The Write Question, Lauren speaks with Bill Vaughn, author of The Last Heir: The Triumphs and Tragedies of Two Montana Families (Bison Books), the story of the Burke and Herrin families, brought together by marriage. Told over the course of twelve decades, and spanning the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, The Last Heir is not only a history of these powerful Montana families, both with extreme political sway; it’s a history of the political, economic, and social histories of Montana. Those who will find this book most engrossing will be those familiar with the locations, landmarks, and institutions found in its pages—those with deep Montana roots, those with their own Montana histories.

About Bill Vaughn:

Bill Vaughn is a former contributing editor for Outside Magazine. In addition to The Last Heir, he is the author of Hawthorn: The Tree That Has Nourished, Healed, and Inspired through the Ages.

Bill Vaughn recommends:


Lauren Korn recommends:

Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome by Joseph Kinsey Howard (Bison Books)

They thought the land was free!: The Story of Hinsdale Pioneers (Hinsdale Woman’s Club)

The Write Question team is Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Peter Hoag, co-producer and editor; and Tom Berich, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at iamthemollruss.com and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now the host of Montana Public Radio’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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