Russell Rowland

Russell Rowland

Russell Rowland is the author of five novels, as well as Fifty-Six Counties: A Montana Journey. He also hosts a radio show called 56 Counties on Yellowstone Public Radio. You can access his radio show, his podcast about Montana books, and any of his other work at


A plea for balance

By: - November 21, 2023

A friend of mine who is a former Democratic legislator attended a recent event hosted by the Mansfield Center, and one of his former colleagues, a Republican, stood up and told the crowd of more than 100 people that he was embarrassed about the direction his party is taking, and wondered whether anyone had any […]


Read their actions, not their lips

By: - November 7, 2023

It was the 1988 Republican National Convention where George Bush the elder uttered the line that he probably became most famous for, which was the simple declaration “Read my lips! No new taxes!” It was a clever line, of course, but what most people forget is that he didn’t keep that promise. Nor did he […]


The conflict in Israel isn’t so different than the conflict at home

By: - October 20, 2023

A good friend of mine who used to be the Tribal Chairman for the Northern Cheyenne tribe posted something on Facebook the other day, comparing what’s happening in Israel to the experience of his own people. I was glad he said something about this because it hadn’t occurred to me until then, and it got […]


The cost of banning books? A lack of empathy.

By: - October 10, 2023

Vincent Van Gogh once said, ‘There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.’ Anne Frank, who was born the same year as Barbara Walters, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Betty White, managed to make a mark on the world by writing as eloquently as anyone ever has about her love of humanity. Her […]


The gun-toting Democratic candidate for Montana governor is walking a fine line

By: - September 26, 2023

Two years ago, I interviewed Ryan Busse for my podcast on Montana books, “Breakfast in Montana,” just before his book, “Gunfight,” hit the streets with a bang, if you’ll pardon the pun. The book became quite a sensation, and Busse has been quietly building support since then, culminating in an announcement last week that he […]


The gun issue isn’t about freedom, it’s about life

By: - September 12, 2023

A couple of days ago, I heard a story on National Public Radio about a program that provides gun owners with the opportunity to store their guns in a “safe house” if they happen to be going through emotional difficulty. It’s designed to address the high rate of suicides in Montana, and it is one […]


Black trucks across the Hi-Line and the ‘stare’

By: - August 29, 2023

When I was doing my tour of Montana for “56 Counties: A Montana Journey,” I covered the state in four big loops. The second of those loops took me up through the middle of the state, then over to Cut Bank, where I turned east for a week-long tour of The Hi-Line. For those of […]


Will Montanans find themselves in the dark again?

By: - August 15, 2023

In Kimberly Reed’s excellent 2018 documentary “Dark Money,” about the battle to keep corporate money out of Montana politics, there’s a painful sequence just after the Citizens United decision, when then-Attorney General Steve Bullock loses his case for a last ditch effort to maintain Montana’s standing as the only state left in the union which […]


The others and us

By: - August 1, 2023

When the railroad came to Montana, rail companies hired thousands of Chinese laborers to drive spikes, paying a pittance. Once they completed that job, many of the Chinese who stayed gravitated to Butte and Anaconda, hoping to procure jobs in the mines. But they did not receive a warm reception in those communities, because they […]


Trickle-down Economics, Chapter 2023

By: - July 18, 2023

Most of the credit/blame for trickle-down economics has generally been directed toward Ronald Reagan. But anyone who suffered through the Reagan years knows that the idea of Reagan creating some kind of economic policy is laughable. What he did do well was messaging. Whether or not he believed, or even understood, the message he was […]


Can Montana solar panel innovation help save Ukraine from Russian attacks?

By: - June 10, 2023

One of the most effective strategies that Vladimir Putin has utilized during this past year’s invasion of Ukraine has been repeated strikes against Ukraine’s main sources of power. It has become a devastating cycle of destruction, reconstruction and destruction again. Ukrainians are dying by the score because they don’t have heat, or power for medical […]


Greg Gianforte and new money

By: - June 7, 2023

When I was in my late twenties, a series of personal and financial crises led me to make a choice I never thought I’d make. I visited my local Navy recruiter, and after two months of boot camp and another two months of school, I reported to my duty station in the charming little coastal […]